The Four Natures of a Question – part II

“Furthermore, if questions so profoundly predetermine thought and inquiry, then it would seem to make sense to get them right lest our searching become a blind man’s groping. Unknown

Questions are truly a great gift from God. Learning the different natures of questions will lead you to be a worthy coach and leader, creating many discovery learning experiences for your employees, coachees, peers, family members, and others.

Closed Ended Question – This nature of this question is to use static recall; recollecting facts and stored information. As soon as one person answers te question, everyone’s thinking shuts down. Examples of closed ended questions:

What day of the week is today?

When is your birthday?

Where are you from?

What do you do for a living?

Open Ended Questions – Engage the higher order thought processes causing everyone listening to move to deeper thinking. Is not normally answered in one word or simple statement. Everyone in the room continues these deeper thought processes, even as others verbally share their responses. Examples:

What does Saturday mean to you?

What would a perfect birthday look like in your thinking?

How could we have done a more effective job?

In what ways will purchasing that particular car help you?

Rhetorical Questions – do not normally require an answer. Many times the answer is in the question. Examples:

Isn’t the weather nice today?

Aren’t you feeling chipper this morning?

You’re not looking to be a failure, are you?

Statement Questions – taking any statement and turning it into a question. Statement questions can be rhetorical, closed or open. As leaders, we should work to keep them open ended or at least engage the higher order thought processes of our listeners. Examples:

You say, you went to work on Tuesday, but didn’t stay?

Jane really likes wearing that blue dress her mother gave her, doesn’t she?

This guy, Samson, really killed 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey?

Learning the nature of questions and which nature will help make forward progress for your employee, volunteer, child, or coachee. After all, if questions so profoundly predetermine thought and inquiry, doesn’t it make sense to get them right lest our searching become a blind man’s groping?

To learn more about the four natures of a question and how to effectively develop and employ questions, order your copy of COACHING:A Way of Leadership, A Way of Life. Also available at Amazon in hardcopy and kindle.

George Yates is a Coach and Church health Strategist assisting individuals, churches and other organizations in reaching for their God-given potential.