There are three important parts:
- To ask open questions
- To try to help
- To show we are trying to help
If we want to help people, instead of telling them the answers, we should try to help them to find them by themselves, as our answers might not be what they want.
Besides, different people have different understanding, different knowledge and experiences, different motivations, different ways of dealing with things, different worries, different emotions attached to different meanings... so we can help in different ways... help them to think.
We can think about situations in which we can have arguments with different type of people, such as family (parents, children- specially teenagers, brothers), work colleagues, friends, customers, etc.
On my experience, as important as the type of questions we ask, it is the attitude that we show when we ask. When our attitude is as if we know everything, or as if we are trying to lead them to our answers, then we are going wrong.
On the other side, if the other person is trying to manipulate us, to provoke us, to take advantage, etc., even if we can feel it, it is a very efficient way to approach this situation by asking open questions to clarify the situation, so that we consistently show that we need more information to try to see the best way to help. Very often when somebody is trying to use us, to take advantage of us, to provoke us, there could be some other reasons that we should try to explore to know the root of the situation, that could be something totally independent to us.
When talking to teenagers, it seems they can feel "interrogated" while we try to learn about the situation. It is a delicate situation in which we have to show that we are trying to help and the questions we ask, are trying to be at least uncomfortable as possible, showing that depending on which answer there could be different options to choose.
Usually we tend to question quickly things we don´t agree with. There is a risk when asking questions that it could seem we are just asking questions to get information about what we want. In the case that the other person is talking about something, asking questions could mean we are disturbing their own way of thinking, their own pace of linking thoughts, so it could be advisable not to just ask questions, but to have the patience to allow them to express themselves as they wish and be very attentive to what they are saying because they might show the keys to the answers we are trying to look for.
We can feel when somebody is saying things that are not totally "right": overgeneralizing, all/nothing, jumping into conclusions, exaggerating, making the problems bigger or smaller to what they are, guessing the future, mind reading, discounting the positive, being too emotional, blaming others or themselves unfairly, labeling, etc. then we can think how to make questions in a non confrontational way, but showing that we are trying to understand. It can become like a game in which in a socratic way we show examples of instances that conflict with the general statements they make or better we ask for examples in which their thoughts conflict with reality.