Questions are extremely powerful tools that reveal more than just an interest in gaining information. All analysis and research begins with a question to be answered. The way the question is asked, however, will impact how the data is collected and interpreted.
For example, in qualitative research, there are many ways to gather information to answers. The response will be remarkably different depending on how the question is set up. The goal while asking questions is to make respondents feel as comfortable as possible, in order to gain the best insight.
Techniques for asking questions:
- Probe for feelings and emotions such as happiness, anger, sadness and joy.
- Ask the respondent to tell a story. We are more likely to remember stories than random quotes and observations. This could take the form of having the respondent relate one of his/her best or worst experiences or even asking the respondent for an ideal scenario.
- Use projective techniques, such as analogies, to explain how a person feels about a topic. For example, if the product were a car, you might ask what kind of car it would be and why, etc.
- Continue to ask when, where, why and what. The progression of abstraction will help to better understand the underlying motivations of a person’s behavior.
- Use communication techniques, such as clarification and confirmation, to gain more insight into what the respondent is trying to tell you.
The above techniques will help you clearly understand and use the appropriate questions while researching or surveying. How we ask our questions makes all the difference.