These questions are useful
when you want to get more information, or if you want to get silent
or shy people to talk more. They begin with:
What? When? Who?
Where? Why? How?
People who are asked open questions have to talk and this can
be useful to initiate a discussion and to gain more information
from which further questions can be generated. It enables them to
express their feelings. For example: 'What do you expect the
end users to focus on when they visit this site?' When effective
questioning is used, whether at work or on social occasions, people
invariably offer more information than is actually asked.
can help you get to the point
and ask for specific answers. They can be answered by a simple 'yes'
and 'no'. They are useful when you are dealing with a caller
who is longwinded or vague. They are also useful for checking details
in the closing minutes of a conversation. They begin with:
Do? Can? Did? Will?
It is important to avoid asking an open question followed by
a closed question; this confuses people and they tend to answer
only the closed question e.g. 'Why haven't you finished the report?’.
Is it because you have too much work?'
are usually used when you have
a vague or long-winded caller to help you get to the key point quickly.
Usually you would ask open questions first, and then follow them
with probing questions to get more specific information. Probing
questions would start with the following:
What exactly ....? Why....? Could you tell me more
are used to check that you have
understood someone correctly. Usually they are formed by quoting
the last few words of the speaker but with question intonation.
For example, if someone phoning a hotel says, ‘I'd like a double
room from 19th to 23rd June' the echo question might be, ‘A
double room, sir?' They are very effective and also reassure
the speaker that you have taken down the details correctly.
These questions are also a method
of checking understanding. Rather than using the exact words the
speaker has said, you put their words into your own words and phrase
a question. So, if a hotel guest complains saying, 'I'm afraid
the AC in my room has stopped working effectively and I don't know
how to fix it,' then you would say, 'So you mean to say the
AC isn't working properly, or has it stopped completely?’ You
are then absolutely sure of the details.
These questions imply an answer contained within the question itself. For example,
the question: ‘I'm sure that you've often backed out of asking
a question and later regretted it, haven't you’ is a leading
question. What does the speaker think the answer will be? This means
the client is not free to give the answer they may have chosen.
Other examples: 'Do you think this functionality is the best?'
'Do you prefer the first one?'
is very important. Questions asked at the wrong time may not allow
the client room for thought, or may distract them from their train