Ask open-ended questions to maintain conversation
Maintaining a conversation can be challenging, especially when it comes to engaging in small talk or with people you don’t know very well. Asking open-ended questions is a great way to keep a conversation going, and it can help you learn more about the person you’re talking to. In this article, we’ll explore why open-ended questions are important, how to ask them effectively, and give some examples to get you started.
Why are open-ended questions important?
Open-ended questions are questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. They require the person to think and respond with more than a one-word answer, which can lead to more in-depth discussions. Here are some reasons why open-ended questions are important in maintaining conversations:
Encourages conversation: Open-ended questions give people the opportunity to talk about themselves and share their experiences. This can create a more natural and engaging conversation.
Shows interest: When you ask someone open-ended questions, it shows that you’re interested in what they have to say. This can make them feel valued and respected, which can lead to a stronger connection.
Builds trust: Asking open-ended questions can help build trust between people. It shows that you’re willing to listen and that you’re interested in getting to know the person on a deeper level.
Leads to learning: When you ask open-ended questions, you’re likely to learn something new. This can help broaden your knowledge and understanding of different topics, people, and cultures.
How to ask open-ended questions effectively:
Asking open-ended questions is easy, but it’s important to ask them effectively. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Use open-ended words: Start your questions with words like “what,” “how,” or “why.” These words invite the person to share more than a one-word answer.
Avoid closed-ended questions: Closed-ended questions can kill a conversation before it even starts. Try to avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.
Follow-up questions: After the person responds, ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. This can help you learn more about the person and show that you’re actively listening.
Be genuine: People can tell when you’re not interested in what they’re saying. Be genuine and show a real interest in what the person is sharing.
Examples of open-ended questions:
Now that we’ve covered why open-ended questions are important and how to ask them effectively, let’s look at some examples to get you started:
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
How did you get interested in your current career?
What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever traveled to?
What do you like about your hometown?
How do you usually spend your weekends?
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
What was the last book you read, and what did you think of it?
How do you like to relax after a long day?
What’s your favorite type of music, and why?
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your life so far?
Remember, asking open-ended questions is a great way to keep a conversation going and learn more about the person you’re talking to. By using open-ended words, avoiding closed-ended questions, and following up with additional questions, you can create engaging conversations that build trust, encourage learning, and show genuine interest.