Have you asked right questions? – Part 1

In our daily life, there are many chances that we need to ask question to further understand strangers, colleagues, friends and family members.

By talking to the same person, some people could get a lot of information, some people could only get some basic information. What makes the difference? Is that just because you’ve asked more questions than other? Not really. It’s all depending on the question you’re asking, the way you’re asking and the way you respond.

Let’s first talk about the question we can ask. We usually classify them into two categories: open-ended question and close-ended question.

An open-ended question is designed to encourage a full, meaningful answer using the subject’s own knowledge and/or feelings. It is the opposite of a closed-ended question, which encourages a short or single-word answer. Open-ended questions also tend to be more objective and less leading than closed-ended questions.

Open-ended questions typically begin with words such as “Why” and “How”, or phrases such as “Tell me about…”. Often they are not technically a question, but a statement which implicitly asks for a response.

Closed-Ended Question Open-Ended Question
Do you get on well with your boss? Tell me about your relationship with your boss.
Who will you vote for this election? What do you think about the two candidates in this election?
What colour shirt are you wearing? That’s an interesting coloured shirt you’re wearing.

While close-ended question is usually results in answers like “Yes or No”, “True or False”. One variety of this close-ended question is called “Leading question”, below is a example of “Leading question” and “close-ended question”.

How fast was the red car going when it smashed into the blue car? This question implies that the red car was at fault, and the word “smashed” implies a high speed.
How fast was each car going when the accident happened? This question does not assign any blame or pre-judgment.

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