Open questions encourage people to open up

I read an article a while ago that told parents to stop asking their kids questions such as, “Did you like the party?”, “Was the food nice?” because they don’t encourage your children to open up.

The article went on to explain that if you want to understand what’s going on with your kids then ask them questions where they need to think about the answer. Such as:

❓What did you enjoy the most at the party?

❓What made that the most enjoyable bit?

❓What else?

The same is true of adults.

If you want to know what’s going on with your team then you need to ask open questions to get them to open up.

An open question is one where the recipient needs to take a moment to think about what their answer might be. It’s in this thinking that they make sense of their experiences and make new connections.

As a result not only do you learn more about what motivates your team they also learn more about themselves.

Open questions usually start with one of the 6 question words:

➡ What’s your ideal outcome?
➡ Who do you need to talk to about this?
➡ When is the best time to get this done?
➡ Where else can you get help?
➡ How often does that happen?
➡ Why: I tend to stay away from why because unconsciously it sends a signal of judgement.

I say usually because there are exceptions. For example, “How was the meeting?” often gets a one word answer, “Good“.  So even though it uses a question word it’s not an open question.

While, “Can you describe it?”, invites someone to give you a thorough response even though the question starts with ‘can’.

If you want to know what’s really going on try framing your questions in a way that encourage a longer than one word answer.

Give it a try and tell me how it goes.

Image Description: Two speech bubbles on an orange gradient background. The one on the left has a question maker in it and the one on the right has three horizontal lines in it.  


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