You might be fooled into thinking that easy questions are the way to go.
Few days ago I wrote to an acquaintance a question about gender discrimination at work. I wrote moved by an impulse, so the question was very emotional yet easy to grasp.
He replied to me, with a kindness unique to his position, and clearly showed me that I didn’t do my homework, the question was wrong.
But what it means to do your homework before asking a question? Well, that’s the difference between a good question and a bad question.
A good questions takes into considerations the aspects of the problem and narrows it down so it’s aiming at a specific topic in a specific context.
A bad question is extremely broad, clear in terms of expression, but too complex in terms of answers.
My bad question was along the lines of “What can we do to help her?”
Which, as you might guess, opens up a series of parallel universe only do reduce the amount of topics.
Where does she come from? What was the power status between her and her boss? etc etc etc.
That was the homework I didn’t do.
Asking broad questions implies that only the person that answer it should do the homework. But she can’t because with such broad question you can hardly get a great answer.
To get great answers, you need great questions.
Some extra examples:
Bad: “How do I make money?”
Good: “I want to do some extra money on the side. I can spend 1 hour a day to work on a project and I feel like I can get some extra customers in design projects. My problem is: I don’t know how to reach them. What are the options to find new connections and propose my design services to people online?”
The good question could even be refined more, but you get the difference.