Asking Open-Ended Questions – Rhoads Life Coaching

Developing the ability to ask open-ended questions (a cornerstone to coaching), creates the opportunity for more powerful and meaningful conversations.

Part of the training and certification to become a coach is the development of the ability to ask open-ended questions. The International Coach Federation makes it part of their assessment and certification process.

So why do you care? Only asking close-ended questions limits communicating with coworkers, clients, family, and friends. How do you tell the difference? Close-ended questions only offer binary answers (yes or no). Then lead or have an agenda.

“Did you do your homework?”

“Was the project completed?”

There are appropriate times to ask close-ended, yes or no, questions, but the amount of information is constricted. The question above doesn’t offer the opportunity to volunteer that the project wasn’t completed on time and was over-budget. Or that the homework is complete, but incorrect. Asking a closed-ended questions limits the ability to find more detailed answers.

In contrast, open-ended questions allow the person responding the opportunity to provide information they believe to be important. It also creates the chance to find answers that would not have been addressed.

“How would we know an open-ended question if we saw one?” – Is an open-ended question.

One of my favorites: To the response “I don’t know” is the question, “If you did know the answer, what would it be?”

Just like any other skill, asking open-ended questions can be developed. The more developed the ability, the more powerful the skill. Take some time practicing (it isn’t the easiest thing to learn) and see it makes a difference in how your conversations go. –

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