A practice I’ve been trying to implement is that of asking open-ended questions.
My default behavior is to make statements in the form of a question:
- “Should I deploy this to production now?”
- “Do you think we should call a meeting with the dev team?”
- “Did you learn about queuing on the last assignment?”
As I have been paying more attention to how I ask questions I’m realizing how I tend to use these statements-couched-in-questions. Essentially, these are more akin to interrogations than they are to questions.
When I am asked a question there are times I prefer having the option of a yes/no response. However, more frequently I appreciate being invited to participate in a conversation. Being asked what I think about ___, or how I feel regarding___, or what’s my opinion on ___ has proven to be a more effective way to invite dialogue.
Compare the example questions above with the following reframed as open-ended question:
- “What do you think about deploying this to production now?”
- “When would you like to schedule a meeting with the dev team?”
- “What did you learn about queuing on the last assignment?”
See how this simple change welcomes the input from the person being asked? Maybe they didn't learn anything about queueing, but they now have the invitation to share what they did learn.
So, do you like open-ended questions?
... or, should I say, what is your experience with interrogations versus open-ended questions?