Open Ended Questions

People like to talk. Generally people would choose a good conversation over a bad conversation anytime. People also like to talk about themselves. If you can find the subject that someone likes to discuss and get them started talking about it, you will find that they start to like you more quickly. Talking about their family or kids, maybe a hobby they are passionate about, or a fun trip they have planned can really get people talking.

This is true when you are talking about your organization or about other topics as well. People will respond based on the kind of room you give them with the question. For example, if you ask someone what time it is, they will almost certainly say “five o’clock”, or whatever time it is. If you get someone that really like to talk you might even get a follow-up comment like, “…the end of the day just will not come fast enough,” or something like that. If you ask someone what their favorite time of day is, they might tell you, “five o’clock because that’s when work is done and I get to go have happy hour with my friends.” They still might tell you “five o’clock, but after that you will get a totally different response. It is very unlikely that they will just tell you “five o’clock”. Implied as part of the question is the “why” and people will talk about their answer more when you ask them why.

Take time to ask questions that are open ended and encourage someone to share a little bit more about themselves or the topic you are trying to get to. If you ask a yes or no question, that is often all you are going to get.


2 Responses to Open Ended Questions

  1. pablorosales07 says:

    Great Blog, I like to talk to people and get to know people. I always ask questions to start a conversation, but sometimes people are so caught up in their life’s that they don’t want to talk or share a exchange of words.

    It’s just sad to get a short answer back when you are trying to talk to someone.

    Thanks for you blog, if you want check my site and give me some feed back and we can have a conversation:

    Pablo R.

  2. alyce says:

    Great post! I agree; it might seem intuitive, but most people — once you get them comfortable — like to talk, especially to someone who likes to listen. I find that in order to help someone to open up to talking about a cause, speaking with enthusiasm about it yourself first helps to break the ice. Then, a few open-ended questions asking how they *feel* about the cause are especially effective. It’s not always easy to describe your thoughts and beliefs in a few words, so a good conversation might just follow!

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