If you are reading this post you probably struggle to find open ended questions. First of all it is important to understand what open questions do on a conversation Some people find it easy to talk to strangers or to get to know a person on the first date. There are people who just seem to have a knack for conversation. However, individuals who are the shy struggle with small talk and getting to know someone. It can be awkward to face those dreaded silences on a date or have the conversation lag.
One remedy to awkward pauses is to practice the use of open ended questions. Open questions are useful because they elicit more than one-word answers. If you ask it just right, the other person will have to elaborate. They won’t be able to answer only “yes,” or “no.” First dates, parties, and even work are ideal times to ask open-ended questions. Open ended questions can be defined as questions that elicit longer answers. Closed ended questions can be answered with a simple yes or no.
Know The Difference Between close and open ended questions
If you are shy or just feel socially awkward, you can practice the questions you use to get to know someone. An interesting conversation is a skill that you can master with preparation. First, let’s see what closed ended questions are like.
Each of these closed ended questions requires only a yes or no. They don’t help the conversation to continue because there is nothing to build on. You ask…they answer, and you are back to an awkward pause. Of course, there are instances that closed-ended questions are acceptable. If you are doing a job interview, it is helpful to be succinct. If you are just passing by a friend on the street…you ask a simple question and expect a yes or no answer. This is the usual ebb and flow of social norms.
If you are out on a first date, however, you need to change the tone and meaning of your questions. You want to get to know this person, so you need to ask questions in such a way that will encourage a more in depth answer. You want to let the other person know that you are interested in them and not just asking questions to be polite.
Examples of closed ended questions:
- Are you having a good day?
- Do you like spaghetti?
- Would you like to go out to eat tonight?
- Do you like sports?
- Are you having fun?
- Is he a friend of yours?
- Have you lived here long?
- Do you have pets?
- Are you in college?
- Do you have brothers or sisters?
- Are you tired?
Questions such as these lead to the conversation beyond a simple yes or no. As the person opens up to you about his likes and dislikes, you find more things to ask and learn. At the same time, your date (man or woman) will be flattered by your interest. Who doesn’t like to talk about themselves some? Hopefully, your partner will reciprocate and ask about you, as well. If you have some of these questions in mind, before the date, it will go smoothly.
There are other situations where open-ended questions are helpful. Many times in job interviews, the employer may ask one or two close-ended questions but then move to open-ended questions to see how you handle them.
Examples of open ended questions commonly use on job interview:
- What is your greatest strength and weakness?
- Why would you be an asset to our company?
- What is your philosophy regarding work ethic?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
These type of open ended questions help the employer learn about you. It helps him see how you handle yourself socially and if you can communicate your answers well. An employer can learn much by just asking an open ended question and watching you respond. That’s why it is a good idea to anticipate questions like those and prepare an appropriate response.
If you struggle with maintaining a conversation with strangers, it is a good rule to ask about three close ended questions to one open-ended questions. You don’t want someone to feel like you are interrogating them, so just start slow and build on their answers. Take the time to hear them as they answer your questions. Nothing is more off-putting than to have someone ask you something and then to not listen to your reply. You can see this in action by trying it the next time someone is walking by you and asks, “how are you today?” We usually respond by saying, “good,” or “fine.” But what if you started telling them how you are? Do they even notice or do they just keep walking?
It may help you to personalize your questions according to who you are talking to. If you are a man, going on a first date, you may want to ask the girl something like:
open ended question to ask a girl:
- What is your favorite movie?
- Where would your dream vacation be?
- Tell me about your pet.
- What was your childhood like?
- Are you close to your family?
On the other hand, if you are a girl going on a first date, you may want to ask questions like these:
Open question to ask a guy:
- Did you play sports when you were young?
- Who is your favorite team now?
- Do you like your job?
- What is something you would like to do someday? (Skydive; tour Europe)
- Who is your favorite author?
Any open ended question will lengthen the conversation, and before you know it, you will feel at ease. The secret to being a good conversationalist is to ask questions that help the other person to open up and to listen truly as they answer. The biggest compliment you can pay to another person is to be interested in what they have to say.
Individuals who are known as extroverts and seem to move around a party talking to everyone, know the secret of open-ended questions. They have practiced asking them many times. You can be like this person as well, and there is nothing wrong with making a list of questions and studying them before you meet others. Of course, you don’t want to come across too rehearsed, but careful planning will give you confidence. You will discover that you don’t have to practice the art of conversation comes more naturally to you.
So, go ahead…make a list and practice in the mirror before that important date or party. Think of some follow-up questions for your open ended ones. Practice being a good listener, as well. Communication is key to being successful at work and play. We practice other skills, so why not practice our questions? Start improving by actually hearing what people say in response to your question, and soon you will discover the art of conversation.