Are You Asking the RIGHT Questions?

by Jermaine

So often in life we are fortunate enough to meet the right people at the right time to receive (and give) yet we never get beyond, “Hello, nice to meet you.” Think back. Who are the people you’ve already met in your life that could have launched your career or connected you with a whole new spear of powerful people? Honestly, a handful of chance conversations can reshape your life. Everybody, including kids,  needs to know how to hold meaningful conversations.

Yesterday we learned how to start a conversation.

Now that you’ve started a conversation how do you get the most out of the interaction?

Start asking open-ended questions! An open-ended question is a question created to inspire a complete  answer using the subject’s own knowledge and feelings. It is the reverse of a closed-ended question, which generally seeks a single-word answer.

                    Open-ended question:   Tell me about your job?
                    Closed-ended question: Do you love your job?

My First Date With My Wife

I still remember my first date with my wife. We went out to Applebee’s. I was nervous. She was nervous. We both set down at the table and fiddled with the menus making eye-contact for brief intervals and then looking away. We ordered our meals, our food came out and neither one of us could even eat it. In retrospect, it was hilarious.

Lucky for me I had jumped on the web for some “first date” success tips. The best one I came across was a spin on the old game Twenty Questions. In essence each person got 10 questions to ask ANYTHING that they wanted to know about the other person in hopes of getting to know them better. You have to either answer honestly on the spot -or- hold back with the promise that you’ll answer “someday.”

I quickly explained the rules of this game to my now wife and, being the gentleman that I am, let her go first. Out of her first five questions all of them were closed-ended and took about two minutes to answer. Because of the quick responses she didn’t get a lot of new information about me and she didn’t have  a lot of help formulating better, more meaningful questions off of my answers. Thus, she wisely paused and said she wanted me to ask my first five questions and then come back to her.

You may have already guessed that if I’m crazy enough to look up the game then surely I pre-created some questions. I started asking open-ended questions: “What was your childhood like?” “Tell me about your best relationship?”  “What long term-goals have you set for yourself?” “What qualities do you look for in a man?” A half-hour later I felt like I had knew her my whole life. She had poured her whole heart out at Applebee’s! Information I didn’t even ask for came out in her heart-felt answers. It was amazing.

My wife, being the genius that she is, now was ready to ask her next five questions. Ironically they sounded a whole lot like the five I had just asked her. I jumped in and shared a ton of information about me. The conversation was so good that we never did end up eating much of that food.

I said all of that to say the next time you spark a conversation with someone you’ve been dying to meet have a few great open-ended questions ready. You never know what you may learn about someone if you’re willing to ask. I discovered the beauty inside my wife through open-ended questions. Who knows, you may find your next job, bestfriend, or mentor using the same technique.

For further information about communication, click the link below.

Communication Techniques