“A good friend is to life- a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.” ~Lois Wyse
We all strive to build deeper and more meaningful connections with the people in our lives. When we care, we want to know more of what other people are feeling and thinking, wanting and planning. To do this gently and positively, we need to use positive questions that “open” people up instead of “closing” them off.
Our usual “yes/no” questions actually tend to shut people up rather than opening them up and building a bond.
You can encourage others to share more of their thoughts and feelings by asking the right positive questions.
How to ask Positive Questions for more deeper and meaningful connections
Open-ended questions allow for a wide range of responses. For example, asking “What did you like best about that movie/speech/food, etc.?” will evoke a more in-depth response than “Did you like it?” (Which could be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”). If you do ask yes/no questions, be ready to follow them up with probing questions that will move the response beyond a one-word answer. “Are you having a good day?” – “Yes.” “What has made it so good?”
Asking positive questions is like any other skill. It can be learned, understood and mastered with study, practice and persistence.
The idea behind asking questions is to show interest, learn more, and make the other person feel good, thereby creating a more deeper heart connection. In my profession I counsel countless people, and asking the right positive questions is the one thing that shows me how they are feeling, so that I can help and heal them. To do this, start with feel good areas that establish rapport. Eg. Family, Occupation, Recreation and Money – basic building blocks of life that people are interested in talking about.
Here are some examples of positive questions:
• “What have you been doing with your free time?”
• “How is the economy treating you?”
• “What projects have you been working on?”
• “I’d love to know more about your family. What are your kids involved in?”
My Favorite Positive Questions:
I’ll share three of my favorite questions to ask. I’ve found that they invariably produce meaningful conversation. I like to call them the story question, the passion question, and Larry King’s favorite question.
1) The Story Question: “How did you get started in the (XYZ) business?
Everyone loves to tell his or her story. So ask a question that allows them to do it. “How did you get started in (whatever it is they do)?”
2) The Passion Question: “What do you love best about what you do?”
People love to talk about the things they are passionate about. So ask them for details and just watch the room light up. An example might be, “So you are a stay at home mom, that’s great. What do you love best about being a mother?” Let people share their passion and excitement for what they do.
These two questions open people up because they have a chance to talk about two of the most important parts of their life.
3) The third question is designed to go deeper:
Larry King’s and my 5 year old daughters Favorite Question: “Why?”
Larry King makes a living as a talk show host; asking questions is what he does. He interviews everyone from top celebrities to world leaders on “Larry King Live.” He has often said his favorite question is “Why?” “Why did you do that?” “Why did you go there?” “Why did that interest you?” “Why is that important?”
That one, simple, three-letter word,– “Why?” – has enormous power. It probes. It digs. It illuminates. It gets to the heart of the matter. It puts thought process and motives into context. It is at the center of meaningful dialogue and understanding. My five year old asks “Why” out of curiosity, but we ask it to build deeper more meaningful relationships.
Remember, its not about digging deeper into the opposite person …its about positively touching the heart and creating deeper, longer and more lasting relationships.
What are your favorite positive questions? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.
With Immense Love & Gratitude,
Counseling Psychologist/ Spiritual Counselor