The 4 “C’s” of Questions

Types of Questions and how to answer them

People ask questions all the time. It’s human nature. But when somebody is asking us a question, many of us fail to recognize the true intention and meaning behind the words of the question. By understanding WHY a question is being asked you will save time, heartache and sometimes even resentment towards a person.

There are 4 different types of questions seen all the time. By understanding each of the “C’s” you will be better equipped to answer the real question being asked, avoid confrontation, and have better relationships overall.

  • Challenge Questions
  • Compliment Questions
  • Complaint Questions
  • Curiosity Questions

While there are some key words you can use to recognize each time of question, it’s important to also take into consideration the individual asking, their tone of voice and the situation as a whole.

Challenge Questions

Like the name of this type of question suggests, a challenge question is asked when somebody wants to dispute or object to your knowledge. They may be challenging you because they disagree with your or simply just to test what you know. You can often find that mismatchers are always locked and loaded with challenge questions ready! If that is not the case, these questions tend to come up when an individual’s baggage around the subject gets triggered.

Challenge questions typically come in the form of “why?” Think of a time you’ve completed a task and somebody asked you “well why would you do it that way?” Now that you’re thinking back on it, it’s probably more clear that that particular question was a challenge.

How to Answer a Challenge Question

Now that you know what a challenge questions looks like, let’s talk about how to answer these in an efficient and effective way.

The last thing you want to do is be even more inflammatory. A great way to answer these types of questions is by redirecting or deflecting. If you care about the person asking the question, you do not want to enable their pain and baggage, so it’s important to have the skill to redirect the question back to them and then move on.

Compliment Questions

Compliment questions are questions that aren’t truly looking for information. These come about when somebody is amazed at something you’ve done but doesn’t necessarily want to learn the skill it took.

These questions usually come in the form of “how?” Remember a time when you’ve shared with someone an accomplishment. Maybe this person replied with something along the lines of “Wow! How did you do it?” If you answered with the actual information of how you did it, the person probably became disinterested and maybe even upset. That is because the question was actually a compliment and not information seeking.

How to answer a compliment question

A great way to answer these types of questions is to simply say “thank you” in some way, shape or form. Because these are not information seeking questions, a good rule of thumb is when you recognize a compliment question is to answer with some form of gratitude.
“It was by the grace of God” or “Oh you know, it just takes a lot of hard work and patience!”

Complaint questions

Just like the last two types of questions, complaint questions are not information seeking questions. These are questions that kids will often ask like “why do we have to go to grandma’s house?” Your kid isn’t really asking why, he or she is telling you they don’t want to go!

These questions can seem similar to challenge questions in the sense that they usually start with “why?” However, you need to handle them just slightly differently.

How to answer complaint questions

When answering a complaint question, it’s important to remember not to enable the complaining. Be careful not to scold the person, but to redirect their attention and encourage a shift in language.
A few times a year, Zenerjen will host a 21 Day Complaint Free Challenge. Imagine the increase of positivity you will see when you begin to recognize how often you complain!

Curiosity Questions

Finally! We made it to the information seeking curiosity questions. These are the questions where the individual asking is truly looking for an answer. They want to know “how” or “why” something is being done.

A trait that makes these questions easy to spot is true engagement with the person asking. They may be leaning in, have more eye contact and overall seem genuinely interested in the information you have to present.

How to answer a curiosity question

These are the questions where you simply just give the answer to the best of your ability. Depending on the question and the person asking, you can choose to go as in depth as you like with the information you provide!

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