Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?


Leadership and Marketing Update from H. LEINER & CO.

Those are 6 types of questions, but they really only fit in one category of questions. There are another 6 types of questions that are more helpful to implement while communicating at work.


  • Direct: These are the who, what, where, when, why, and how questions. They are clear, simple, and question one topic. For example: who will be at the meeting? Where were you yesterday? How much time will it take?
  • Control: You already know the answer to the question, but you ask to find out if the person is lying or isn’t paying attention by looking for consistency. For example, you heard a negative report about the way an employee handled a certain situation. A control question would be asking that employee how the situation went, even though you already know the answer.
  • Repeat: You ask for the same information in two different ways to search for any discrepancies in the answers. For example, if you ask: “how long will the meeting be?”, and later you ask: “what time will the meeting end?”, you can see if the answers are consistent. If not, there might be a valid reason for the different answers, but it would lead to further investigation.
  • Persistent: Ask the question in several ways to understand the entirety of a situation when there could be more than one correct answer to the question. For example, if you ask an employee “what did you do yesterday?” and they respond with a single topic, asking “what else?” will give you a more complete, realistic version.
  • Summary: These questions give the person the chance to reconsider their responses. For example, if you have a conversation with an employee about the prospective donors he will reach out to today, a summary question would be to ask at the end, “so which donors are you planning to call today?” This summarizes the conversation and allows the person to think about his response before committing.
  • Non-pertinent: The question is not related to the topic at hand, but you ask it to ease the conversation and to allow the person to open up to you without being intimidated. For example, instead of just asking deliberate, pointed questions at an interview, ask the prospective candidate questions about his responses that are not related to the job, to make him feel more comfortable.


Wisely choosing when to ask which type of question will allow you to receive the information you would like to know as well as help other people respond effectively.

(The Balance)



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