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How to ask sensitive questions

A follow on from our blog: CAN I ASK YOU A RIDICULOUSLY SENSITIVE QUESTION? As we have said asking sensitive questions is often about overcoming our own personal biases we fear coming across as too aggressive, too personal, too rude or upsetting the person we are talking to.

One useful tool to help you overcome this bias is the ARQ Technique:

Acknowledge: that the question is uncomfortable or awkward. Get the awkward part out of the way.

"I know this is a sensitive question and might sound a bit blunt."

Reason: then give the real reason why you need to ask the question. When someone understands that your intentions are good, they can accept whatever it is that you’re asking.

"I would value your help to make sure we do the best thing for people in a similar situation."

Question: Then ask your question directly. You have already shown empathy and relevance.

"Why do you buy luxury items on credit when you say you can’t afford the credit you have?”

Consider what you might lose by not asking important questions, this technique is a useful skill to keep in your back pocket for those tricky situations we all have at times.


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