Listening through questions

As humans we have a tendency to make our questions reflect our own biases. This results in asking close ended questions, or open questions followed by leading examples that reflect our biases. And it is tempting.

The problem with such questions is they don’t make us keep an open mind, because we are expecting a specific answer. They also might trigger defensiveness in the other person, since the leading examples/closeness in those questions strongly show the bias.

Recently I am adopting those techniques in my questions. Try doing this for few weeks, it becomes natural after.

  • Make your questions open. Shut up. Don’t explain. You would be surprised by the answers you get. Also many times people misunderstand the question, still don’t explain, ask a different open ended one. This will make you get better.
  • Don’t ask “Why?”. I used to ask why so many times and I discovered it intimidates people specially in stressful situations. My “Why?” questions are all becoming “What makes you say/do so?” or “What are the reasons?”. People feel less threatened. Try it.
  • Smile.