Asking more questions can definitely make you happier! Why is that? The minute we begin any conversation or come across any kind of information whether that is online or by chance hearing about something, our brain starts to categorise and try to make sense of it.

That means too, though, that we will make quick judgments and assumptions and then act on those – quite often before we get the full picture. This happens so quickly which is why we need to rise above that, tricking our brain and stopping it tapping into an automatic belief. And the best way to do this is ask a question or two.

Asking more questions helps you to better understand rather than accepting things at face value. You might gain a different insight, learn something new, stimulate ideas, or be inspired. You might hear something that makes you laugh, makes you think, or maybe changes your life in some way (big or small). It is easy to go through the day focused internally or talking about ourselves, or believing we already know the answers.

We rarely listen well or fully because most of the time we’re thinking about what we will say next or jumping to conclusions too fast. Yet if we ask more questions we can create much stronger connections with others, demonstrate understanding and get happier because we are not taking stuff personally.

“The best scientists and explorers have the attributes of kids! They ask questions and have a sense of wonder. They have curiosity. ‘Who, what, where, why, when and how!’ They never stop asking questions, and I never stop asking questions, just like a five year old.” – Sylvia Earle

Open-ended questions promise more insight. Have you ever asked a question expecting a juicy, detailed response, only to get a simple “yes” or “no”? It’s probably because your question wasn’t open-ended. Closed-ended questions have a binary element to them and therefore don’t need to be expanded upon. To gather as much information as possible, ask questions that contain one of the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why) or how.

Example: Instead of asking “Do you like French bulldogs?” try “What is your favorite breed of dog?” or “Why don’t you like cats?”

Let questions beget more questions. Like a child, if you craft a nicely open-ended question, chances are you’ll get an answer that prompts further queries. This is especially true if you’re trying to address a complex issue, such as solving a design challenge or tackling a problem. However, the value of follow-up questions isn’t limited to professional settings; they’re also great for keeping conversation flowing in social interactions.

Example 1: Suppose you ask your coworker “What are your thoughts on this proposal?” Whatever their response, you can likely follow up with “What else might you suggest?” or “When would you be ready to present?”

Example 2: Rather than asking your friend “Did you have a good weekend?”, you can rephrase it as an open-ended question (“What did you get up to this weekend?”) and continue with “Where is that restaurant?” or “Who did you go with?”