An open-ended question encourages a meaningful, complete response. It is a communication technique used to gain deeper access into a person’s thoughts and feelings. When utilized correctly, open-ended questions can strengthen a relationship, help us understand a person’s point of view, needs, and feelings, increase empathy, and assess if someone is a good fit for us.
Unfortunately, most people tend to ask closed-ended questions, which usually elicit a “yes” or “no” or one word response. The problem with closed-ended questions is that they do not foster discussions. They stop the conversation short and prevent us from gathering rich information about a person’s inner thoughts and feelings.
If you want to get to know someone better, increase the intimacy in your relationship, or need to assess if someone is a good fit for you, you must get in the habit of asking open-ended questions.
Below are a few examples that will help clarify the difference.
|CLOSED-ENDED QUESTIONS||OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS|
|Are you close to your family?||Tell me about your family.|
|Do you want me to leave you alone?||What do you need from me right now?|
|Are you still in love with me?||How do you feel about our relationship?|
|Do you like your job?||How did you get interested in your career?|
|Do you want to spend time with me?||How would you like to spend this weekend?|
|Are you excited about our trip?||What are you most excited about?|
Tip: Open-ended questions typically begin with “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “Tell me about”, “How do you feel?” The more you practice asking open-ended questions, the more you’ll see positive growth in the quality of your relationships.