In our daily life, each of us faces the need to get answers for certain inquires. Therefore, we have to ask questions in order to get the answers we are looking for. The same applies to work too. Whether you are a manager, a leader or a team member, surely you will need to ask questions related to work including progress, issues faced and new ideas. A common thing in all these cases is that we always looking for the the right answers to our questions. Nothing else.
Questions that we ask can fall into two categories: “Open” questions or “Closed” questions. In the following sections, I will address both categories in order to give a clear understanding about them.
An open question can be defined as a question that cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but requires a developed answer . Such questions usually begin with “why”, “how”, “what”, “when” and “where”. Those questions encourage people to explain and to be engaged in the discussion and the conversation. This helps a lot to build relations . Also, open questions can help in developing self-confidence in the person. However, we need to take care when asking open questions especially “why” questions. If we ask too many “why” questions, then we can put the person in a defensive situation. In addition, this may let the person feel blame.
There are two definitions for closed questions :
- A Closed question can be answered with either a single word or a short phrase.
- A Closed question can be answered with either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Closed questions give you facts. They help to get the ball running in the conversations and to change the pace and balance of the conversation. However, the conversation will be limited if we ask too many closed questions. Also, too many negative answers can lead to a sense of failure. Closed questions usually begin with “what”, “which”, “how many” and “is it true that”.
Finally, we need to make sure that we ask questions right in order to get the right answers. This helps to get the information we need and to build or maintain good relations.
All the best…
 “Soft Skills in Test Management” tutorial by Graham Bath.