UCLA Extension

Asking The Right Questions

How to easily and effectively ask questions to change conversational outcomes.

In this immediately applicable, brass tacks course students will learn how to ask questions based upon the book the The New IQ: Leading Up, Down, and Across Using Innovative Questions. Students will repeatedly get the practice being more collaborative and having more productive conversations. Can’t figure out how to get unstuck when having a difficult conversation? We will show you how to do that. Tired of always feeling like you are fighting with your team? You’ll learn a solution to that as well. At a loss for what to do when the conversation turns emotional? We will practice that as well.

Here’s what some previous students have said:

“This was one of the most immediately useful classes that I’ve ever attended.”

“I feel much more confident about my ability to interact in stressful situations and have a positive outcome.”

“This course was very helpful in helping me manage conversations and communicate more effectively. The material is practical, and I can use this right away.”

“The learnings from this course have equipped me to take on some of the most challenging people and situations when I return to work.”

“This course has provided me with some very valuable tools that I will use at work and in my personal life.”

“Innovative Questions has the most immediately useful skills that I can apply to managing in all directions in both my personal and professional lives.”

“Somehow, due to this course, I’m looking forward to the next tough conversation to utilize the tools from this course.”

“Innovative Questions was the course they gave me the tools to use every day in order to be more effective.”

“With at least one role-playing exercise each day, students will have the opportunity to immediately implement their newly learned skills.”

Course methods and approach:

Each day, the instructor will present Innovative Questions concepts and then students will work through those issues in role-playing practice sessions. Students will debrief in their groups and in the overall class to ensure competency in practicing these skills when they return to work.

Course flow:


Demo Exercise: Learn how Innovative Questions work and see how the exercises will help you.

Defining an Ideal Final Result. Learn how to define the outcome you want so you can get to an ideal outcome effectively.


Understanding how an argument is created. We will practice breaking down an argument and understanding the elements. Sound boring? It’s not. It changes your ability to solve problems in ways you can’t imagine.

Understanding where you are and where you are stuck. Understand that if you don’t know where you are stuck, sometimes you can’t move on. We will give you sample situations to practice so you can see how beneficial it is to identify where you are stuck and how good it feels when you get unstuck.


Understanding how to successfully make a change in you. In order to be able to apply these changes when you leave, we will give you skills so you CAN use them next Monday.

Human nature and why you need to understand it to succeed. Unfortunately, we aren’t dealing with robots anymore, so we will practice “human” situations that require an understanding of human nature and how to walk out of those conversations with positive outcomes.


How you can pull people towards you or push them away. Our words and actions define how people react to us. In these exercises, you will practice how to pull people towards you to work together instead of at odds.

How assessing the readiness of others to perform a task can really help you. Have you experienced a situation where you just couldn’t get someone to do something? We will show you one technique for knowing in advance whether they will perform at the level you expect.


Turning negative situations into positive ones: a real-life case study. Here, you will get a chance to work through a situation that David turned around.

Practice with a no pain final exam. Attempt to ‘stump’ the instructor given your difficult scenario.

Lam_DavidDavid Lam, CISSP, Six Sigma Black Belt

Vice President, Technology Management Services, Citadel Information Group

David Lam has over three decades years of experience managing information for small and medium businesses including custom software development, systems management and information security. As a former CIO and Chief Information Security Officer, David brings a holistic and highly integrated view of technology services to his day-to-day work. David has worked as a consultant, for a university, for a nonprofit and in the corporate realm.

Mr. Lam is a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt from ASQ and has also achieved ITIL Foundations, CNE, MCSE, CCNA, CCDA and Network+ certifications. David holds a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and while there was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He has taught multiple college extension classes and has presented at numerous conferences on technology, information security and physical security. Leveraging his technology background, David also works with individuals and organizations on strategy, teambuilding and coaching.

David has also been published multiple times in the ISSA Journal and on Tom’s IT Pro. He has written the Information Security chapters for the ASIS Protection of Assets Manual with Dr. Stahl and is now working on a Leadership Book called Innovative Questions.

The course really helped me identify areas for improvement in terms of my engagement with others during conversation. Specifically, it set me on a course to help people come to a solution without just solving the problem for them.”
– Raschel Muse, Senior Product Manager, Guidance Software