Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Ask the Right Question!

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Ask the Right Question!

How to Get What You Want Every Time and in Any Situation


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The more you work on your conversations, thinking deliberately about what you want to ask, the more your conversations will work for you. How to elicit information and get results without more of the same old talk.

auto-generated audio
auto-generated audio

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Author Rupert Eales-White emphasizes the importance of using active listening, focusing on a particular subject, and asking good open-ended questions to get productive results from interviews and conversations. He mixes a few examples with specific how-to principles outlining ways to structure effective conversations. This generally solid book has the feel of a textbook. Some readers may find it too structured or basic, since the author breaks down conversations into sentences with some detail. The book’s approach may be more appropriate in organizational cultures where people prefer a focused style of questioning. Those who prefer a more informal, casual conversational style may find his approach less suitable. getAbstract recommends this book to human resource professionals, to those facing critical interviews, and to those who wish to think strategically about their conversational, information-gathering, or persuasive skills.


The Key to Having an Effective Conversation

The major reason conversations have poor or negative outcomes is a failure to ask the right questions. Few people have been taught "the art and science of effective questioning."

These failures are reflected in a number of key areas - in conversations between employees and managers, in interviews with clients, and in meetings that become big time-wasters. You can learn to have more effective conversations.

Often, the workplace prioritizes shorter, rushed conversations, where it is likely that you will not be able to ask enough questions or the right questions. In such cases, a longer conversation would be more effective. Shorter conversations do not save time. In the long run, you will spend more time compensating for information you lack that might have been elicited in a longer conversation. You may also find yourself cutting a conversation short because the other person is initially unresponsive. When that happens, instead of backing off, try to open up the conversation with a more open-ended question and with more responsive listening.

Conversations are often ineffective because people tend to use closed questions...

About the Author

Rupert Eales-White is a management consultant with PA Consulting’s Sundridge Park Executive Development Centre in the United Kingdom. He is the author of several books including Creating Growth from Change: How to React, Develop, and Grow. He focuses on helping managers and executives develop better leadership, strategic thinking, teamwork, and change management skills.

Comment on this summary