Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Succeeding in postgraduate study
Succeeding in postgraduate study

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

5.6.2 Asking difficult questions

How do you ask difficult questions in order to solicit information, without annoying or upsetting others?

  • Openly acknowledging any difficulties or confusion may encourage others to open up.
  • Ask open questions to unpick the understanding of other participants. This may expand the knowledge of the group as a whole.
  • Short messages are likely to receive more responses than long ones.
  • If you are unsure about the meaning of a posting, ask a short question to clarify. For instance: ‘I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Could you expand on this?’
  • Using emoticons like smiley faces may help to lift the mood, but they should also be used with caution, as it is also easy to misunderstand or misinterpret these in an online space.