Asking questions can be one of the best ways to enhance a conversation, but the wrong questions can actually hinder conversation. Not all questions are created equal! Open-ended questions are friendlier and more effective than closed-ended questions. They usually start with “What” or “How”.
Here are some examples of how to change closed-ended questions into open-ended questions:
Instead of “Did you like it?” you could ask, “What did you like about it?” or “How did you like it?”
Ever try to get information from a team member or co-worker and received one or two word answers? Get more specific with the questions above.
Instead of “Are you upset?” you could ask “What’s bothering you?” or “Tell me more about how you are feeling?”
This works at home as well as at work.
Instead of “Would you like to do something else?” or you could ask “What would you like to do?” or “What would just make your day?”
Truly an invitation to share!
Instead of “Any questions?” you could ask “What questions do you have?” or “Who has the first question?”
Commit this one to memory!
Using open-ended questions requires effort. However, the effort is well worth it, especially in a tense situation. The next time you are in a tense conversation, make your questions open-ended, and watch the dynamic change. You will have a much better conversation, and the other person will appreciate your communication skills.
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