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  • Writer's pictureJD Solomon

Question Type or Technique? How to Produce Better Collaboration


Understanding question types and using different techniques is essential for better team collaboration.
Understanding question types and using different techniques is essential for better team collaboration.

Powerful questions are at the core of Facilitating with FINESSE. A facilitated session is a structured meeting in which the meeting leader (the facilitator) guides the participants through a series of predefined steps to arrive at a result that is created, understood, and accepted by all participants. Great facilitation and meaningful collaboration can be achieved through understanding the question types and some key techniques under each type.

 

Basic Questions Used in Surveys

I normally talk about basic questions from the perspective of what we find on Google Forms, Microsoft Forms, and SurveyMonkey.

 

1. Closed-ended questions

These can be answered with a simple yes/no, true/false, or specific information.

 

2. Open-ended questions

These encourage a detailed response, usually in short form or long form.

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3. Multiple-choice questions

These provide a set of options or scales.

 

A Broader Base of Question Types

The three question types you will use in a basic participant survey are part of a broader list of question types. We use this broader list on everything from root cause analysis to facilitating strategic plans.

 

1. Closed-ended questions

These can be answered with a simple yes/no, true/false, or specific information.

 

2. Open-ended questions

These encourage a detailed response, usually in short form or long form.

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3. Multiple-choice questions

These provide a set of options or scales.

 

4. Leading (or Funnel) Questions

Leading questions try to lead the respondent to some way of thinking. In practice, leading questions are often seen as negative because you lead someone to your way of thinking. Funnel questions are often seen as more positively leading someone to an area of focus or examination. Either way, we are "leading" someone to someplace with our questions.

 

5. Clarifying (or Probing) Questions

Clarifying questions are used to seek further details. Probing questions are usually seen as more aggressive. Either way, these questions seek more detail.

 

6. Imagination Questions/Techniques

Facilitators use imagination questions to increase participation, collaboration and understanding. These questions are intended to expand our mental frame.

 

7. Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical questions aren't really questions because they don't expect an answer. They're just statements in question form: "Isn't Sally's work insightful?" Most sources consider rhetorical questions a type of question. Some consider them a technique under leading questions.

 

8. Repetitive Questions/Techniques

Interrogators commonly use this type of question by repeating certain questions to look for inconsistencies and confidence levels. Some experts consider this to be a technique for clarifying questions.

 

9. Confrontational Questions/Techniques

These questions involve challenging the person with conflicting information or evidence or aiming to elicit a reaction or admission. Some experts consider this to be a technique for clarifying questions.

 

10. Silence

Does a question require words? Most definitions say no. If silence is a question type, this also means that there are different techniques for asking silent questions. Some experts say silence is a technique for clarifying questions.

 

Political Applications

The same basic three survey questions (open, closed, and multiple choice) are commonly used in political applications. Leading questions (like in the form of “push” surveys) and clarifying questions (internal polls and focus groups) are also common.

 

Interrogation Applications

Whether it is failure analysis, after-action reports, or criminal investigations, the same basic three survey questions (open, closed, and multiple choice) are commonly used. Leading (or funnel) questions, clarifying questions, repetitive questions, confrontational questions, and silence are all in play.

 

Collaboration Applications

The same basic three survey questions (open, closed, and multiple choice) are used by facilitators in collaborative efforts. Imagination and clarifying questions are essential. Leading and confrontational questions are de-emphasized but may still be selectively needed.

 

Questions Are Essential for Facilitating with FINESSE

Powerful questions are at the core of Facilitating with FINESSE. A facilitated session is a structured meeting in which the meeting leader (the facilitator) guides the participants through a series of predefined steps to arrive at a result that is created, understood, and accepted by all participants. Great facilitation and meaningful collaboration can be achieved through understanding the question types and some key techniques under each type. We’ll explore more in an upcoming series at Communicating with FINESSE.


 

JD Solomon Inc. provides solutions for program development, asset management, and facilitation at the nexus of facilities, infrastructure, and the environment. Subscribe for monthly updates related to our firm.


 

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