The problem with my questions lately...

Here are some questions I've asked at work in the past few days:

- Is there anything I can do to help you?
- Did you find out what our options are?
- Do others in the team have that same impression?

And here's a classic one from my home life:
- Were you born in a barn?

You know what the problem is with all these questions? They're all closed questions. And damn, that was another one. Closed questions can be answered with "yes" or "no". I've got to start expressing myself with open questions. All the management books and classes will tell you this. Open questions invite the other person to engage in a discussion with you and they don't presuppose what the correct answer is, which some of my closed questions do. Closed questions make it all too easy for you and the other person to escape from a perhaps tense conversation without ever getting to the heart of the issue. But asking open questions isn't as easy as it might seem.

Here's what I should have said:

- What can I do to help?
- What are our options?
- What do the others in the team think about this?
- What will happen if we leave the front door open here in the middle of winter, Precious?

Does anyone else out there struggle with this? OMG, there I go again.

Comments:

open questions are a difficult habit to get into. it probably comes from my innate "bossy-ness" but I always want to ask defensive closed-ended questions. like "well did you try THIS?" It helps to look really angry while you ask, too. People love that!

it's also hard for me because even if someone asks me a yes/no question, I still expound on it, because I'm a talker. I expect others to do the same, which isn't fair.

so now i pretend i'm interviewing people when i ask questions. as though I'm writing a story - that sorta works!

Posted by christin on February 28, 2008 at 05:41 PM CST #

I have the same problem. But don't throw away all the close ended questions. "What will happen if we leave the front door open here in the middle of winter, Precious?" doesn't have the same ring. :)

Posted by Pam on February 29, 2008 at 07:18 PM CST #

Yes.

Posted by Michelle on March 06, 2008 at 04:27 AM CST #

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