The use of different questioning techniques depends on what type of answer you are looking for. A basic distinction is made between open, closed and hypothetical questions.
There are many different ways of asking a question. Depending on the phrasing it will elicit different reactions from respondents. Similarly, the use of questioning techniques can guide a conversation.
The classic questioning technique is the contrast between an open and a closed question. An open question is phrased so that the dialogue partner can answer freely. The person asking the question receives a lot of details and information this way. A closed question, on the other hand, can only be answered with “yes” or “no”. This questioning technique is useful if the person asking the questions is looking for unmistakable answers.
The question funnel is a great option if the person asking the questions is not sure what direction the conversation should take. While the funnel is still open and very wide at the start of the conversation, the questions become narrower and more concrete as the conversation goes on. The first step is to get an overview by asking general questions. Possible questions are: “What else is involved?” or “What are your thoughts on this?”. The second step is to probe for details: “When?”, “How exactly” or “What for?”. The third step is to summarise the conversation and reflect on whether or not everything has been understood correctly. This is where closed questions are very useful: “Did I understand this correctly?”, “Is that correct?”.
Additionally, a distinction is made between direct and indirect questions. Direct questions are used if the dialogue partners know each other well and simple topics are to be discussed or facts are needed: “How much does this cost us per month?”. Indirect questions, on the other hand, are used if, for example, hierarchical relationships exist or if there is potential for conflict between the parties involved. The indirect question is more polite because it is phrased in the conditional and expresses appreciation: “Who could take over this task?”.
Therefore, the questioning techniques used depend on the purpose of the conversation. The right questioning technique can guide a conversation towards the desired outcome.