Powering through the art of questioning
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Although we ask questions to elicit more information, the type of question we ask determines the kind of answers/information we receive.
Let’s take a look at some types of questions:
Closed-ended questions require one-word or very short answers. These are relatively easy to answer. Close-ended questions are usually asked to test an individual’s understanding or set up a particular frame of mind. Questions such as ‘do you love your job?’, ‘What’s your name?’, ‘Would you assist the projects manager?’ etc. are some examples of close-ended questions.
An open-ended question is asked to stimulate an individual to share their perspective on a topic in several sentences. Unlike the close-ended question, open-ended questions demand longer answers. They usually begin with ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘tell me about’, etc.
According to studies, open-ended questions compel individuals to think, reflect and provide more information, thus encouraging creativity.
This type of question subtly projects a particular kind of answer or perspective. When somebody, for instance, asks you ‘You will complete the project on time, won’t you?’, they are indirectly telling you that you have no other choice than to finish the project on time. You can only say yes!
Leading questions can also come in the form of body language, facial expressions, voice tone, etc. For instance, being asked ‘Would you travel by bus or train?’, with the questioner smiling when they said train suggests that they would prefer train to bus.
Funnelling questions, just like the name implies, come together into the shape of a funnel. They are a series of questions which move from very general/broad topics to restrictive/narrow ones.
For example, ‘How was your last project?’, ‘Did your teammates cooperate?’, ‘Would you consider working with them again?’, ‘Which of them would you recommend for a higher position?’, etc. are funelling questions. This set of questions keep narrowing down till they focus on an individual.
To provoke an individual to reflect on an issue, a rhetorical question is asked. This type of question doesn’t necessarily demand an answer. It helps the speaker/questioner get their audience engaged and sustain their attention and interest.
‘What would become of you if your appointment is terminated by your employer today?’ could be asked to get an employee to rethink their action and become more committed to their work.
While interacting with others, it is important to use these types of questions to keep the session interesting and to get the right response to your questions.