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26 Jan 2012

Relationship Building Technique #2: Closed Questions

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Relationship Building Techniques

We often don’t learn the value of listening techniques in building relationships. Consequently, people might not realize we are listening; this needs to occur to build relationships.

Closed questions encourage specific or limited responses. For answers, they usually require one word, short phrases or a response from a menu of possibilities. Often, they begin with the words, “Who,” “How,” “What,” “Where” and “When.” “Yes” and “No” are often typical responses.

Even though many discount their value, when combined with other listening techniques, closed questions become extremely valuable in building relationships. They clarify specifics for us, pinpoint the facts, verify what we heard, nail down agreements and commitments, and test whether we can move.

Some examples include:

  • Are you going out to the plant? (Yes/No)
  • Which color do you want? (Facts)
  • You want me to call the vendor . . . right? (Verification)
  • Is seems you’re saying [X], correct? (Verification)
  • Would today, tomorrow or the next day be better? (Menu)
  • Do you agree? (Agreement)
  • Will you help me? (Commitment)
  • Do you need to tell me anything before we move on? (Testing)
  • Is there anything else I need to cover? (Testing)

From a relational perspective, closed questions convey the feeling that you:

  • Have a purpose for your conversation
  • Grasp the details
  • Understand them
  • Respect their time by getting to specifics

The effect of closed questions is to encourage people to:

  • Conclude that you’re listening and digesting
  • Focus and sort through fuzziness
  • Shorten their answers
  • Clarify agreements and commitments

Closed questions have downsides. They can make discussions feel every interrogative and restrictive if used alone. Nevertheless, when integrated with other listening techniques they can reduce misunderstandings, demonstrate that you’re listening and build relationships.

 

Series Navigation<< Relationship Building Technique #1: Open-ended QuestionsRelationship Building Technique #3: Pause >>

2 Responses

  1. Tammy Wilson

    Mike,
    Your comments truly encourage a deep thought process when I read them. Although I know that you work for an amazing and growing company, I believe that you haven’t yet tapped into your true calling.
    Reading your Blogs inspires me to suggest that you become a Motivational speaker and travel the world. You also have an appealing presence which is extremely beneficial in capturing an audience.
    Look out Zig Zigler… there’s a new man in town 🙂

    1. Thank you, Tammy, you are too kind. Others have suggested that for me; it’s one of the reasons I ventured out on my own. However, I will admit that I prefer to view myself as a demolition expert. I like to believe people are already motivated; they just need a little help in solving problems to get around (or through) obstacles. Better yet, I like to help them solve them on their own so they learn how to solve problems better. Nevertheless, I greatly appreciate the compliment and look forward to seeing you around again. Please feel welcomed to stop by here anytime.

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