The Art of Open-Ended Questions
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and felt like you really had a connection? That they really “get you” and you looked forward to your next encounter? It may have even been in a business situation or community function. If so, there’s a good chance two things took place. Most of the focus was on you, and your conversation was with someone who had an understanding of the power of open-ended questions.
It is natural for us to want some focus on us, so you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable with that. Focusing on the other person is an easy way to make them feel special, interesting and unique.
The art of answering open-ended questions is not quite so simple. With practice, however, you can see it pay off big both in terms of personal and business-related relationships.
Open-ended questions are those that require some explanation other than a simple yes or no answer or one word response.
Asking a child, for example, if “they had fun today” may get a yes or no response. Asking them “what did you do that was fun today” will likely solicit a more involved answer.
“What did you find most interesting about France?”, “What is it like in the real estate business these days?” and “Wow, tell me more about what its like owning your own restaurant.” are likely to engage a lively and interesting conversation. More so than “How long have you been selling houses?”
Putting some thought into well-phrased, open-ended questions shows you are interested. It allows the person you are speaking with to elaborate of the items of importance to them. You can more easily and quickly find out where their “hot buttons” are and what makes their eyes light up and engages them. They may even have a better chance of leaving your meeting thinking what a great conversationalist you are and how you really had a “connection”.
Building relationships is like building a business. It can take time, thought, diligence and care. In a perfect world, friends are good customers and customers are good friends.
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