I’ve noticed that people who ask closed questions are most often trying to lead the other person, trying to anticipate the answer, or trying to validate their own perspective.
Essentially, they are trying to control or steer the conversation to a predetermined conclusion or to as topic of their own agenda. By not allowing the other person to express their own original ideas, they get a lack of richness in the response.
Open questions, on the other hand, allow a person to freeform their response. What was that like for you? What did you experience? What challenges do you face? These questions allow for a free response, as opposed to questions like, “You must have been scared. Was that difficult?”
Consider these examples of open vs closed questions that I use in my trainings sometimes. Notice how the closed questions aim to leave the questioner in control of the process.
• Is this a good direction for you?
• What makes this a good direction?
• Are there some resources you’re overlooking?
• What other resources might be available to you?
• It sounds like you could either stay in this role or quit it – is that true?
• What additional options might there be?
• Have you asked everyone concerned?
• Who else might you ask?