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Tips on asking the right questions

Questioning is a powerful tool, so don't be shy. Ask those questions!

Most questions merely seek information, but sometimes they can be perceived as a challenge to authority.  “Information gathering” quests (AKA questions) require courage and respect from all sides. The person asking has to understand how it might be perceived, and the one “being questioned” has to understand that the questions are probably not a challenge.  

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Asking questions can come easily for some (a chatty seat mate on a plane ride), while others may feel uncomfortable or intimidated asking questions.

There are so many scenarios in which questions are necessary.  For example, how to ask questions of your teenager; how to ask questions in school or academic settings; how to ask questions in a public forum; how to ask questions of your doctor or medical professional. And practice makes improvement! 

Questioning is a powerful tool.  Behavioral science researchers have found people often don’t ask enough questions. Maybe questions don’t come to mind right in the moment, or they feel a lack of confidence in asking about the topic at hand.  It also happens that some people can be overconfident in their own knowledge and feel they have the answers already, or don’t care to know more.  Still others may feel self-conscience that they will seem uneducated, rude, or pushy if they ask questions.

Asking good questions has several benefits beyond the obvious of becoming better informed; when done right, with patience and kindness from all involved, it can improve interpersonal bonding and helps build camaraderie and connection.

Unfortunately for those uncomfortable asking questions, the best first step is to do it!

Here are nine tips on how to ask better questions:

  1. Be a good listener.
  2. Don't be afraid of your questions.
  3. Do your research.
  4. Go where the conversation takes you.
  5. Use silence to your advantage.
  6. Ask probing questions.
  7. Keep your questions short.
  8. Get your sequence right.

“Follow-up” questions also can be very helpful as they indicate to people that you are listening, and you want to know more. Researchers also suggest asking open-ended questions as the answers and ensuing conversation can be very helpful and enlightening.  The challenge is to know when to ask an open-ended question, and when to ask a direct and specific question.


Most can probably recall hearing “there’s no such thing as a bad question” at some point in life.  However, there actually are.  Bad questions can reveal that the asker hasn’t studied something, or just simply wasn’t paying attention.  Having said that, here are some examples of good questions, and even better ones.

GOOD questions: Get straight to the point; Are concise and descriptive.

GREAT questions: Return additional information, valuable insight; Allow conversation to flow with ease.


Being a good questioner is probably as important as being a good listener.  We know how to be a good listener…pay attention, paraphrase back, don’t fall asleep during the conversation (joking..sort of!).  Now, it’s important to learn how to be a good questioner. Here are some qualities of a good questioner:

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  • Curious
  • Brave
  • Asks intentional questions
  • Presents probing questions
  • Always thanks the person for their time and response
  • Practices active listening
  • Asks questions that encourage discussion

And with that, we invite your questions!  We’ll do our very best to help you with the answers you’re seeking.  If we don’t have the direct answers, our resource specialists have a database full of information that might help save some time and effort.  

Here are a variety of helpful and convenient ways to reach us:

  • Drop in at the Camarillo Health Care District offices…we’re always glad to see you!
  • Call 805-388-1952; that’s the front desk; tell them a little bit about your question and they can connect you with the right person
  • Email us from our website; go to and click on Contact Us in the upper right corner of the page
  • Email one of us directly if you have their email address
  • Ask us through any of our social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Questions about my medical test 


  • Why is the test being done?
  • What steps does the test involve?
  • How should I get ready? Do I need someone to drive me?
  • What will any recovery be like?
  • Are there any dangers or side effects?
  • How/When will I find out the results?
  • How long will it take to get the results?
  • What will we know after the test?
Questions about my diagnosis 


  • What may have caused this condition?
  • Will this be permanent?
  • How is this condition treated or managed?
  • What will be the long-term effects on my life?
  • How can I learn more about my condition?
Questions to ask my pharmacist 


  • What does this medication do?
  • How do I take it? When should I stop taking it?
  • What are the side effects?
  • Could this medication interact with my other meds, vitamins or supplements?
  • Is there a generic alternative?
  • Could this medication make me unsteady on my feet?
  • What should I do if I forgot to take my medication?
  • Do I need to alter my diet or exercise while taking this?
  • What if …


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