Every question has a corresponding set of possible answers. The design of the question determines how broad or narrow the response field becomes. For example, when I ask the question, “Do you agree with me?” the response field is limited to a “yes” or “no” option. When I ask the question, “What do you agree with in what I just said?”, the response field broadens considerably.
Almost every train the trainer program will reference the importance of asking questions. Part of the art of crafting questions is the awareness that the question opens up the space for the dialogue. There are times when you want to narrow that space. For instance, when you are leading the learner somewhere specific or you are short on time. And, there are times when you want to open that space wide and see what might emerge in the dialogue.
Many of us get concerned about encouraging dialogue because we are worried that we can’t get the conversation back on course. The questions you ask can help you lead the conversation and redirect when needed.
Do you agree with me? What do you agree with in what was just shared?
Does this make sense? What part of this conversation is intriguing you?
Are you okay with this? What’s working for you? What could be better?