from Marjorie's notebook

Asking Good Questions

  1. Ask open-ended questions, not yes or no questions. Those will get a one-word response and give you little information. They close off thinking rather than helping the client to think into their own problems.
  2. Don't restrict answers by asking questions that can be answered with a list unless you want a list.
  3. Instead, use phrases like:

  4. "tell me all you can", "describe as completely as you can"' "what were your feelings?"
  5. Don't use "why." It accuses, assaults, and puts the person on the defensive like when a parent asks (demands) "why did you do that?"
  6. Ask just one question at a time. If you ask two or more part questions, you will probably only get the answer to one part.
  7. Don't interrupt, put words in the person's mouth, or anticipate their answers. You may be wrong, and even if you are right it will be disempowering.
  8. Use common vocabulary. Don't talk over the person's head, and don't talk down to them. Know their level of education.
  9. Don't be too blunt.

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    Contents of this page are copyright © 1996 by Marjorie Nelson-Brambir.