Merry meet, arrae.
There are several types of spirit guides, such as loving relatives passed to spirit, "teachers" who are interested in you because they have information that might help you on your path, angels, and a host of other entities. Your Higher Self is also one of your guides, believe it or not. Some people have an easy time connecting to them, some don't. I know of many people who have communicated with the same spirit guides since they were little kids! Others, like you, are newly interested in reaching out to them now.
1. Speak aloud, or write down questions
In my experience, we hear them as a voice in our heads that sounds like our own voice, but we know the information didn't come from us. There are a lot of books with neat exercises to help you train yourself in distinguishing between your thoughts and their messages. I like the book, Ask Your Guides, by Sonia Choquette. One of her suggestions is to speak aloud the messages you get from Spirit, as well as your questions to them. This makes their presence more real to you, helps you focus your thoughts and intentions better, and hear better as well. Speak to them just as you would anyone else.
You could also write down questions on a piece of paper, and then watch for signs the next few days. They always answer. You'll instinctively know when something that you see or hear is an answer to one of your questions. This gets kind of fun! After a while, you won't need to write things down. You'll just communicate telepathically. Remember, they often tell us things we need to hear, and not necessarily want to hear ...the best medicine is bitter sometimes, lol. Just keep your mind and heart open.
2. Use discernment
There are myriad spirits around us at all times, though we can't see them. Some are not so benevolent. jest another thing, I would like to mention some cautions to be aware of :
If the guide's advice seems untoward in anyway, don't follow it. This is known as exercising discernment in your communications with spirits. Bottom line, the three main red flags to look out for include:
1. the spirit is trying to fluff you up and inflate your ego in some way
2. the spirit is trying to isolate you from people around you in some way
3. the spirit is trying to get you to do something that doesn't make sense to you, and is inappropriate
Helpful spirit guides don't do any of that. They respect and work within the constructs of the space, time and culture you're currently living in.
Also, be smart about what questions you ask whom. This is also discernment. For example, if Aunt Mary was bad about handling money when she was alive, you wouldn't do well to ask her money-related questions when she's a spirit. They don't suddenly get smart just because they've died. Some spirits really mean well, but you shouldn't listen to them. Thank them profusely for their care and concern, but tactfully and lovingly don't follow their advice