In praise of asking open questions

This time, it’s about the privilege of asking good questions. It’s about the privilege of building trust.

Conversation is from the latin word Cum-versare, literally turning (“versare”) together (“cum”). It indicates the ability to sync with one another, physically as well as metaphorically, when we talk and communicate.

A good conversation happens through questions and answers. Too many times either we struggle to ask questions or, when we do, we ask wrongly.

We can change this, to our greatest advantage.

Closed questions, for example, are those which can be answered with either yes or no. Do you think I could do better? is a closed question

Open questions require a broader answer than just yes or no. How do you think I could do better? What do you think I could do better? are both open versions of the same question.

Any time we ask a closed question, we pay the price, the opportunity cost of not asking an open question. Only very rarely, in fact, does asking closed questions foster fruitful answers.

We’d better think carefully, before asking closed questions.

The opposite is also true: good, open questions are a prerequisite of many good, inspiring answers.

Our conversation partner will feel encouraged to open up, disclose more, share an indication as to how effectively I can do better. An open question and, more in general, an open way to communicate, facilitates satisfaction through effective and rewarding conversation, as we open up, we avoid feeling defensive, we share our thoughts and emotions more easily.

A good answer to a good question is the key building block of a relationship of trust. When I receive a good answer to a good question, I start building trust with my conversation partner.

Trusting someone means relying on someone’s good answers to our questions.

 

Tommaso Arenare

 

www.twitter.com/tommaso_arenare

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