Questions may be of various forms and purposes but they generally fall into two main types: open ended questions and closed ended questions. Open ended questions are meant to gather more information through elaboration and explanation. Closed ended questions, on the other hand, are asked to verify and confirm, usually eliciting only simple and specific answers.
The focus of this article is on the concept of asking closed ended questions and the manner of asking such type of question. We ask questions at any point in our conversation with other people but not all of us are aware of the kind of question we ask and the essence of having a particular technique in questioning. This article brings us to understanding basic and primary manner of questioning with a focus on closed ended questions.
Closed ended questions are answerable by a simple yes or no. In other cases, it may target a definite answer or a piece of information. It is basically used for clarification, verifying information, and taking control of a conversation. Closed ended questions can take on a presumption, probing, or used as a leading technique. It is otherwise known as a saturated manner of questioning as answers are restrictive and finite.
How to Ask Closed Ended Questions
In asking closed ended questions, start the question with verbs, particularly linking and modal verbs. Some of these verb examples are “Are,” “Is,” “Will,” “Have,” “Do/Did,” and contractions such as “Aren’t/Isn’t,” “Doesn’t/Don’t/Didn’t,” and “Won’t.” Modal verb examples are “Would,” “Could,” and “Should.” They are often referred to as convergent questions. If you wish to narrow down a lengthy conversation and get down to a decision or conclusion, ask more of closed ended questions.
Let a speaker take on a preference or a certain position by asking closed questioning such as “Do you like the plan?” This is very suitable for sales and closing a deal with a client. As a leading technique, it leads an individual to arrive at a decision such as “So let us get you started with the offer, ok?” or “I will now sign you up for the service, ok?” Oftentimes, you get clear answers from the person being asked.
Closed ended questions may be asked as a starter before planning to gather more information. In a survey or an interview, for example, you start by asking “Are you aware of the new sanction imposed?” and then follow it up with “Tell us more about what you know regarding the sanction.” Alternately, you can ask open ended and closed ended questions in a conversation for variation.
Asking this type of question must be performed with a tone of friendliness and curiosity. There must be show of courtesy and concern in order to avoid any misinterpretations that can lead to arguments.
Examples of Closed Ended Questions
Here are a few examples of closed ended questions that you can use in a conversation:
1. Is this your first time to experience this problem?
2. Do you need more clarification on (subject matter/topic)?
3. Is that correct?
4. Shall we continue…?
5. Does this clarify your confusion about…?
6. Could you please (instruction)?
7. Have you checked on (information)…?
8. Do you have any questions regarding (subject matter/topic)?
9. Are you searching/looking for (information)?
10. Are you ok?
Impact of Closed Questioning in a Conversation
When we are engaged in a conversation, there are times when the person we are talking to can be lengthy and wordy in expressing ideas. It can be irritating if the person says a lot of things but is actually just beating around the bush. A technique to manipulate and control the flow of the conversation is to ask closed ended questions more than open questioning.
However, because this manner of asking questions offers simple answers, it may generate incomplete responses which leave out some details that may be necessary. This does not benefit reserved and inarticulate speakers as well since it requires less time for them to talk and express their ideas. Furthermore, it can lead to false assumptions or conclusions if not properly asked.
Whether you ask open ended or closed ended type of questioning, a very important thing every person must do is to listen closely and attentively to answers for a clearer understanding and better communication.