Normally you would think that a question has to be met by an answer. But sometimes, answering a question with a question makes communication interesting.

Consider this- an employee goes up to the supervisor and wants to know how he/she has been performing at work. Instead of answering the question, the supervisor asks “what do you think?”- the question here invites a discussion which allows both the employee and the supervisor to analyze the employee's performance and maybe arrive at plans to make things better. A monologue from the supervisor on the employee's performance probably wouldn't have left any room for a discussion owing to the reluctance of most employees to counter a senior's opinions.

The same goes for a classroom as well. To promote a healthy discussion, the teacher needs to throw questions at students from time to time and encourage them to think and respond.

Encourage students

Students by themselves might be hesitant to speak so counting on them to initiate a discussion might not work out all the time.

Questions can do the trick here as it encourages students to think and once a student answers, several others feel like joining in. Also students feel more at ease countering each other's opinions than the teacher's.

Questions like “what is your opinion?”, “don't you think…?”, “why can't we…?”, “do you agree?” and so on make conversation more engaging and interesting. It becomes all the more important in debates where the key is to look at a statement or an argument from various angles. If you have something in mind on which you want to know more, the best way to seek information is to frame a question., which would invite a discussion.

Uncomfortable situation

Emphatic assertion of an opinion, in addition to killing the flow of ideas and opinions, makes the atmosphere awkward.

We generally do not feel comfortable being around or talking to someone who refuses to consider different viewpoints. The key to breaking the ice and getting involved in ideating is to bring up more questions.

However it has to be kept in mind that the more informal the atmosphere becomes, the more we tend to digress and go from one topic to another. Questioning can keep a topic alive but can also lose it. While it is important that a discussion brings up new questions, you need to make sure that the objective of the discussion is fulfilled. Ask questions and invite questions but remember to stick to the issue. If the discussion is observed to be shifting track, politely but firmly bring it back to the matter on hand. The key here is a proper blend of informality and restraint.