May 25, 2007

Open Ended Questions

Conversations are all about the question.



If there are no questions, the conversation ends right there.

Why is then that so many of us bloggers and writers fail to recognize the power of simply asking? Most of us want an ongoing conversation, but our style of writing and speaking do not lead people to ask a question. We write in such a way that only asks people to be readers and not interact.

There is a place for making a statement, but how much more beneficial is it if we would just ask a question?

I recognized this in myself (again) as I re-read a comment I made on someone else's blog. I made a statement. I didn't ask a question, and, therefore, I did not really involve myself in a conversation. I do that on this blog sometimes, too. I write a post, and do not leave room for conversation to develop.

The secret, I think, is in asking open ended questions. (This is also a good skill to learn when seeking to start conversations with strangers or to carry a continuing conversation with someone else.) Open-ended questions are questions that require more than a single word response. In conversation, non-open-ended questions are okay as long as they are followed up with more questions. In writing, however, the non-open-ended questions are more deadly because you are not there to personally extend the next question or to keep the conversation going.

Non-Open-Ended Questions:
Do you like the color red?
Do you like lasagna?
Did King Solomon do the right thing?

Open-Ended Questions:
Why do you like the color red?
What are your top three favorite foods?
What do you think caused Solomon's downfall?

So, what do you think? What are some techniques you have used to keep a conversation going? What are some ways you use to get people to interact with what you are saying or have written?

1 comment:

  1. If one can utilize a simple 5 letter word when setting another up for contradition or comment, I often say, "What would Jesus do?" or "What would Jesus have done?" or "Would Jesus have thought to express your His feelings that way?" Quite effective when the others don't know its coming.