I have to admit I am a bit obsessed with questions. It’s fair to say I have some firm beliefs about questions to the extent I have had an argument with an ex-boyfriend over what was meant to be a romantic lunch as to the difference between an open question and a closed question. I talk passionately about the different types of open questions that us facilitators can use, when I run sales workshops I find I myself telling Account managers, Field Sales reps or Sales Directors they have to work on their questioning technique even my friends can feel the wrath of my belief that if you want to understand someone or get to the bottom of a situation you have to ask open questions. None of these – do you? is it? are you? nonsense which only gets you a yes/no or average response at best.
Where are the questions that provoke thought? Where is the consideration to the outcome of the conversation and therefore the question which moves you towards that outcome? Which of us are pausing to reflect on what we are hearing before asking the next logical question?
Lets go back to basics. I am a puritan when it comes to the definition of open questions.
An open question provides us with information, knowledge and moves us forward in our thinking or finding a solution. You can’t answer with a yes or no.
An open question has some common ingredients.
I am very clear that one of these words needs to be in a question to make it open.
What do you notice as you sit there reading these thoughts on questions?
Should you find yourself constructing questions like this ‘tell me what is the relevance of using questions in facilitation and what would an example be of a great question used within facilitation?’ you are likely to confuse your group and only get one of the questions answered.
Closed questions have a role in facilitation and conversations. They enable you to close down a discussion. You can use them to confirm your understanding. They are great to ask after a summary to clarify if you have understood what has been said or discussed. Remember to use your tone of voice to suggest ‘no more discussion’
What are your thoughts about the role of questions in facilitation and training?
How do you use your questions to effect?
Whats your favourite question to ask when facilitating?
On 18th March School of Facilitation is hosting a free webchat all about the power of questions in Facilitation.
What do you need to do to join? Email me on Kirsty.firstname.lastname@example.org for further details. What’s stopping you?