When kids are young, they ask a lot of questions. The constant flow of what, how, where, why, and what if can even drive a parent crazy. But we know that this is how our children learn about the world and we happily oblige. As they grow, however, and become adults, the questions become less frequent – and what’s even more frustrating, less curious. Gone are the what, the how, and the why, replaced by a simpler form of close-ended questions.
It is an unfortunate fact that most questions we ask as adults are questions that don’t require any more than a simple yes or a no. These questions carry no curiosity and in its place they express assumptions. Instead of asking “What language do people speak here?”, we ask: “They speak English here, right?”; instead of asking “What was interesting about living in…?”, we ask “Was it interesting to live in…?”; instead of asking “What do you suggest I do when I…?”, we ask “Do I do this and this when…?”.
These examples may not be perfect, but if you watch yourself over the next few days, try to notice how many of your questions are open-ended and how many are close-ended. Once you’ve done that, try to catch yourself every time you want to ask a close-ended questions, and ask an open-ended instead. How much more do you hear in response?
Open-ended questions are powerful questions — not only because they contain curiosity, but also because they open the flow of information and energy in a much potent way than close-ended questions. Try it. You’ll be amazed at the difference.
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