“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” – Eugene Ionesco

Getting good information is impossible without asking a good question. Whether you are participating in a 5-WORDS survey or creating your own, it is essential to identify a good question.

The question itself is the starting point for all of the knowledge it can activate. A poorly positioned question can garner inaccurate or irrelevant results, contributing nothing to the cultural conversation about important topics.

A well-positioned question, on the other hand, will yield fascinating results that can often be applied across several topics.

What does this mean for you? Ultimately, you should not waste your time answering a bad question. But if you see a great question, your answer may lead to a conversation that changes the world.

1. The first step in identifying a great question is understanding the asker’s goals.

If it is unclear what a question wants to achieve, you may contribute your voice to a questionable cause or provide irrelevant answers, wasting both your and the surveyor’s time. Every question has a goal to achieve, and it is important that you consider what that is.

2. The second step is to approach every question objectively.

Acknowledge and understand the language that every question uses, so you might understand that they want you to think.

The 5-WORDS solution is built to activate deep thought and get beyond asker bias, but you may want to consider the question before providing your insights.

Locate loaded language and assess the automatic responses your mind brings up; this can reveal important insights both about the question and yourself.

3. The final step is to make sure your answers address the question.

It would be easy, for example, to answer a question about “Bernie Sanders” with words like: “socialist, senator, Vermont.” But do these answers get to the heart of the question? Answer honestly, but understand the question. Ensuring that you are providing genuine answers is the only real way to benefit the discourse.

When in doubt? Try creating a question of your own so you can really understand how people write the questions you answer. After all, everything informs the collective!

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