Open Questions and examples

Open questions show we are interested in what the other party has to say and are trying to understand it.  They can  reveal values, concerns, expectations and the reasons behind actions. These questions start with: who, what, where, when, why or how.  Note that who, what, where, and when are more directed to the content or facts of a issue and why and how are dealing with procedures, processes or what someone is thinking about.  “Why” may create defensiveness with someone,  so use it carefully – after you have created rapport and ask the question using a calm tone. After you have asked an open question, pause and wait to hear from the other person says.  If the person is processing the question, they may be silent.  The silence does not need to be filled with another question or a comment.

Examples of questions are:

What constrains are you facing?

What is important to you about this?

What helps you?

What hinders you?

What is stopping you?

What is driving you?

What options have your considered?  What options have you not considered?

What actions will you take to move this forward?

What support will you need from me?  From others?

What will you do to overcome the challenges?

How will you know when you have succeeded?

What is an idea that would support your values?

What are your next steps?

How will you accomplish X?

Why is it important that it be done that way?

What values are being supported by doing it that way?

What could be one small change that would make a significant impact for you?

How would you like to see the relationship work?

What does working together look like?

What would help the team to function more effectively?

What obstacles is the team currently facing?

What feedback do you need from X?

How do you like the feedback to be delivered?  Email, in person, written out?



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