The Art of Asking Effective Questions


Many of us become frustrated during conversations because no matter how many questions we ask, we appear to just get “yes” or “no” responses. Requiring us to ask more and more questions and creating defensiveness in the other individual. Perhaps the person you think is being resistant has actually responded quite directly to your query.


The art of asking questions is actually quite simple – it’s called open ended questions. You see, many of us ask closed ended questions – and then the appropriate response is “yes” or “no” or “I don’t know.”  So, to prevent this frustration for both you and the person that you are speaking to here are some examples of closed vs. open ended questions:

  • “Are you going to the store?(closed) vs. “What are your plans for today?” (open) or “When are you planning to go to the store?” (open)
  • “Did you get the proposal completed?” (closed) vs. “How are you coming along with the proposal?” (open)

So, in order to get a better response all you need to do is change how you ask.

As a general rule, avoid beginning questions with:

  •      “Are you…”
  •      “Did you…”
  •    “Will you…”

For more success, begin your inquiries with:

  •      “Can you tell me about …”
  •        “Help me understand …”
  •      “How …”
  •          “When…”

Another question to avoid is “Why …” because it can be seen as challenging and puts people on the defensive as they have to explain their reason for doing what they did. The word “why” seems to have an underlying syntax that you must be doing something wrong. It is better to replace it with “Help me understand your rationale for …” as it gives an invitation to share.

When you craft your questions with open ended questions, and give people time to respond, others are more inclined to share more information!





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>