Monday, July 20, 2009

Challenge Five By Dennis Rivers, MA

In order to coordinate our life and work with the lives and work of other people, we all need to know more of what other people are feeling and thinking, wanting and planning. But our usual "yes/no" questions actually tend to shut people up rather than opening them up. You can encourage your conversation partners to share more of their thoughts and feelings by asking "open-ended" rather than "yes/no" questions. Open-ended questions allow for a wide range of responses. For example, asking "How did you like that food/movie/speech/doctor, etc.?" will evoke a more detailed response than "Did you like it?" (which could be answered with a simple "yes" or "no").
Consider the difference between two versions of the same question, as each might occur in a conversation between two people in a close relationship:

"Well, honey, do you want to go
ahead and rent that apartment we
saw yesterday?"


"Well, honey, how do you feel about
us renting that apartment we saw

The first version suggests a "yes" or "no" answer, favors "yes" and does not invite much discussion. A person hearing such a question may feel pressured to reach a decision, and may not make the best decision.

Both versions imply a suggestion to rent the apartment, but the second question is much more inviting of a wide range of responses. Even if our goal is to persuade, we can't do a good job of that unless we address our listener's concerns, and we won't understand those concerns unless we ask questions that invite discussion.
Thank you Dennis Rivers.

For more:

No comments: