Are You Leading (with your questions)?

“How did you guys enjoy that?”  I overheard someone pose this question and had to laugh.  How do you respond to this?  “No, we didn’t enjoy it.” That is clearly not the response he was expecting or likely seeking.

I admit I am guilty of using leading questions. “Did you love it?” or “Isn’t he great?” When you are excited or have an opinion, it can be challenging to set aside your perspective and objectively inquire about someone else’s views.

How you frame questions influences how people engage and respond.  Your words can invite people to participate in the discussion – “What do you think about …?” and encourage them to share their perspectives – “Can you describe how that could work?”

Leading questions are framed to guide people to a particular response or way of thinking. Instead of asking about an individual’s experience or their opinion your word choice guides them to an answer. This can happen in several ways:

  • Adding a personal appeal of agreement. “The new session format is the best we’ve tried, don’t you think?” or “This is the worst program we’ve ever offered, isn’t it?”
  • Using an assumption. “Do you think Tim’s team will fail to meet the deadline again?”
  • Phrasing the question so that the easiest response is yes. “Shall we all approve the revised publication proposal?”

Consider the questions you ask for the next 24 hours. If you find that you use leading questions set aside 15 minutes a day to frame questions to use in your discussions and meetings. The more you practice good questioning, the easier it becomes.

Visit The Question Project for sample questions and resources to support your questioning.

“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result they get better answers.” ~ Anthony Robbins

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