The advantages of open-ended questions:

Closed-ended vs. open-ended questions – it’s an unfair battle.

Before reading this article we recommend that you read the article about “closed-ended questions“, because this post is an continuation of that post.

Video about open-ended questions

…Okay so closed-ended questions are no good when it comes down to making interesting conversations (cf. the post “How does closed-ended questions effect your conversations“). So if your goal is to make engaging conversations with the people you bump into, then open-ended question will be a far better choice.

Open-ended question are different from close-ended question, because they often can’t be answered with a one-worded or very short answers. Open-ended questions are structured so that they encourage longer answers than closed-ended questions often does.

For instance can a close-ended question often be answered by a simple “Yes” or “No”, or some simple fact, but this is not the case with most open-ended questions.

In accordance with this there are two mayor advantages of open-ended questions compared to the closed-ended. Open-ended questions leads to:

  • Longer answers. Which often means that you can achieve a better and more natural flow in the conversation.
  • Better and More personal answers. The reason being that open-ended questions allow a greater ” variation in the answer”.

A trouly open-ended question can almost be answered in an unlimited number of ways, this means that the respondent are able to make an answer using his or her own words.

For instance, if you ask a person a closed-ended question, like: “Do you like chocolate?” most people would answer “Yes” or “No”.


But if you rephrase this question to an open-ended question, like: “Describe how you feel about chocolate?” then most people would go into a longer conversation about chocolate.


Examples of good open-ended questions:

Open-ended questions usually begin with a how, what or why.

For example:

  • “What factors you take into account when ________?” or
  • “What made you ____?” or
  • “In your opinion, what is a reasonable way to ________?” or
  • “How would you describe ______?” or
  • “Why did you choose to _______?”

or perhaps the most famous (or infamous) open-ended question of them all:

  • “How does this make you feel?” or some variation thereof.

This question has become a cliché in both journalism and therapy. The reason being that it has been used so extensively. and thats not a coincidence, because it’s a fact that the most engaging stories a newspaper can write, is the stories that the common public can relate to on a emotional level. So when a journalist asks you: “How does that make you feel?” all he wants is to draw out how you are affected by the events at hands, so that the public can feel what emotions the you as the subject went through.

According to this its a fact that open-ended questions often provide qualitative instead of quantitative answers.

Such answer are more rich on personal detail like personal feeling and other good stuff like that, and this is what humans can to connect on.

To get the full list of open-ended questions download this eBook: 94 Questions to ask on a first date.


Okay so what have we learned about “Conversation Questions” so far..

Well first of all we know that open-ended question are better than closed-ended question when it comes down to generating conversation, because open-ended questions allow people to “use their own words”, while giving longer answer.

But, will the use of open-ended question really ensure an interesting conversation?
The answer is: NO..

Open-ended questions can’t ensure that a conversation will be interesting, all they do is to encourage longer answer, and they thus help to keep the conversation going. But you have to talk about something that both of you finds interesting before, the conversation will really engaging.

I know this sounds basic, but I don’t feel that most people have actually realized the effect that questions can have on a conversation.

This is the problem..

The biggest problem with questions is that All questions are LEADING:

What people doesn’t realize when they use a questions in a conversation, is that when they asks another person a question, they are actually leading the conversation onto the topics of that question. But they are doing so without actually knowing if the other person are committed to talking about that subject.

Confused? let me give you an example:
Let’s say that I’m very much into fishing, and I asks you about your last fishing adventures. I don’t actually know If you are interested in fishing at all, but because I ask you about you fishing adventures I “force” you to talk about fishing (at least for a little bit). But chances are that you are not that much into fishing, and if you are not, then you probably won’t be that motivated to talk about fishing, and thus you will probably give me a “weak answer”, and soon we have to struggle a lot just to keep the conversation going..

This is the whole problem with conversation.

With questions you can actually steers the conversation in any direction, that great, but its also dangouros, because you are very likely to steer the conversation onto something that the other person don’t find that interesting and thus the conversation will become more and more platonic.

The solution is simple: Stop using questions! :P

Learn how to carry a conversation without using any questions LINK here LINK!


The advantages of open-ended questions:, 4.0 out of 6 based on 3 ratings

Written by

Hey Markus here, I'm the founder and humble author this website.    

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

How many stars does this article deserves?

Rating: 4.0/6 (3 votes cast)

Write a comment - We need your input!

Please enter the letter/number from the image just above