62 Types of Questions and Why They Work

So, I have this running list of about 4000 questions.

Questions to ask yourself.
Questions to ask your team.
Questions to ask your customers.

And I update it whenever I’m asked, hear, read or think of a good question. Probably about twenty new ones a week.

Fortunately, they’re sorted by category, i.e., “Creativity,” “Sales,” “Leadership,” and the like.

Otherwise, going through that list would (as my girlfriend says) make my eyes bleed.

Anyway, a few months back I heard a question that has become one of my new faves:

“What words govern your questions?”

A question about questions. Imagine that 😉

Interestingly, when I first read that question, I thought it might be cool to go back through my list of 4000 to look for some language patterns.

Pretty neat exercise. Teaches you a lot about yourself.

So, here’s what I came up with:

62 Types of Questions and Why They Work

1. Are you saying…?
Identifies someone’s language patterns.

2. Are you willing to…?
Tests someone’s limits.

3. Can you give me…?
Encourages examples and specifics.

4. Can you remember…?
Taps into someone’s memory.

5. Did you ask…?
Questions someone’s questions.

6. Have you considered…?
Non-threatening proposal of options.

7. Have you given any thought to…?
Suggestive, yet doesn’t sound like advice.

8. Have you thought about…?
Forces someone to think!

9. How are you constantly…?
Promotes consistency of action.

10. How are you creating…?
Proves that someone has a choice.

11. How can you become…?
Future oriented, motivational.

12. How can you make…?
Enlists someone’s creativity.

13. How could you have…?
Focused on past performance improvement.

14. How do you feel…?
Feelings are good.

15. How do you measure…?
Clarifies and specifies someone’s statement.

16. How do you plan to…?
Future oriented, process oriented, action oriented.

17. How do you want…?
Visualizes ideal conditions.

18. How does this relate to…?
Keeps someone on point, uncovers connections between things.

19. How else could this be…?
Encourages open, option-oriented and leverage-based thinking.

20. How long will it take to…?
Clarifies time specifics.

21. How many different ways…?
Enlists someone’s creativity, explores various options.

22. How many people…?
Clarifies and specifies.

23. How might you…?
All about potential and possibility.

24. How much energy…?
Identifies patterns of energy investment.

25. How much money…?
Identifies patterns of financial investment.

26. How much time each day…?
Identifies patterns of (daily) time investment.

27. How much time…?
Identifies patterns of energy investment.

28. How often do you…?
Gets an idea of someone’s frequency.

29. How well do you…?
Uncovers abilities.

30. How will you know when/if…?
Predicts outcomes of ideal situations.

31. If you could change…?
Visualizes improvement.

32. If you had to…?
Possibility thinking.

33. If you showed your…?
Imagining what others would say.

34. If you stopped…?
Cause-effect question.

35. If you were…?
Ideal situation.

36. In what areas…?
Searching for multiple answers.

37. Is anybody going to…?
Deciding if something even matters.

38. Is there any other…?
Challenges someone to find ONE more answer.

39. Is there anything else…?
Yep, there probably is. Answers are rarely absolute.

40. Is your idea…?
Forces someone to think objectively.

41. On a scale from 1 to 10…?
Putting a number to an emotion clarifies it.

42. What are some of the…?
Encourages list making.

43. What are the biggest mistakes…?
Negative based for preventative measures.

44. What are the keys to…?
Searching for best practices.

45. What are the patterns of…?
Uncovering commonalities.

46. What are the things that…?
Because there’s probably more than one answer.

47. What are the ways…?
Freedom (not) to resign to one solution.

48. What are you currently…?
Assesses present situations.

49. What are you doing that…?
Assesses present actions.

50. What are you willing to…?
Explores limits.

51. What can I do to…?
Demonstrates a desire to serve.

52. What can WE do to…?

53. What can you do right now…?
Focuses on immediate action being taken.

54. What can you do today…?
Focuses on daily action being taken.

55. What causes your…?
Uncovering true motives without the dreaded, “Why?”

56. What challenges are…?
Identifies barriers.

57. What did you learn…?
Because people don’t care what you know; only what you learned.

58. What do you need to…?
Needs assessment.

59. What does that tell you about…?
Encourages someone to figure out the answer individually.

60. What else can you…?
Because there’s always options.

61. What evidence…?
Because specificity is persuasion.

What words govern your questions?

Share your list of question prefixes (and why they work) here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

If they can’t come UP to you; how will they ever get BEHIND you?

Buy Scott’s new book and learn daily practices for becoming a more approachable manager!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

Growing Bigger Ears: Avoid Emotional Reactivity

“You did WHAT? Three thousand dollars? Oh my God! Are you freaking CRAZY?!”

– – –

How would you feel if someone reacted that way to YOU?

Maybe a little defensive?
Maybe a little frustrated?
Maybe a little hesitant to open up further?

Right. Of course you would. Who wouldn’t?

This is a typical example of Emotional Reactivity, and it’s a dangerous barrier to Growing Bigger Ears.

See, certain things that people say WILL emotionally activate you. And as a result, you might felt the need to defend yourself, get huffy or even get the uncontrollable urge to yell!


Stay cool, stay calm and stay open.

That’s easy for YOU to say! you think. You’re not the one whose 17 year-old son just crashed the car into the garage door! You’re not the one whose best salesperson just lost the firm’s biggest client!

Fair enough.

But I’m not suggesting you repress your anger or hide your emotions. Instead, challenge yourself to become a better listener by responding emotionally objective, not emotionally reactive.

That means you…

STRIVE TO: pause, not jump.
STRIVE FOR: dialogue, not debate.
STRIVE TO BE: curious, not judgmental.
STRIVE TO APPEAR: observant, not accusatory.

IN SHORT: Objective, not reactive.

Because if you don’t, here are the potential dangers:

Emotional Reactivity is contagious.
Which increases conversational tension.

Emotional Reactivity is disrespectful.
Which is antithetical to the entire philosophy of Growing Bigger Ears.

Emotional Reactivity undermines trust.
Which taints the effectiveness of your listening environment.

Emotional Reactivity blocks understanding.
Which actively interferes with the listening process.

Emotional Reactivity creates defensiveness.
Which decreases the likelihood of someone opening up further.

Emotional Reactivity prevents people from saying what they want to say.
Which means it takes longer to achieve a resolution.

– – –

So, now that you understand the definitions and dangers of Emotional Reactivity, next we’re going explore six practices to help you avoid it.

1. Start with yourself. Before you can effectively listen to others, you must first listen within. Know thyself. To thine own self be true. You know, all of that stuff.

Consider these three questions to pinpoint the triggers of your Emotional Reactivity:

o Where does your emotional reactivity come from?
o What personal biases get in the way of listening effectively?
o When was the last time you listened, all the way through, to an idea that made you uncomfortable?

2. Objective, not reactive. Objectivity is in short supply. So, learn to act in response to the thoughts that fuel your Emotional Reactivity.

For example, if a comment made by an employee stirs up something fierce inside you, just STOP. Consider removing yourself from the situation doing a few exercises to increase oxygen and blood flow.

You could try focused breathing, taking a break or just getting up and walking around. All of these practices will relax your mind and body, thus reducing reactivity.

CAUTION: These relaxation techniques are most effective when carried out in private, so as to reduce the likelihood of coworkers thinking you’re really, really weird.

3. Respond; don’t react. There’s a MAJOR difference between these two words philosophies. See, reactions don’t require thought. They’re knee-jerk reflexes. Responses, on the other hand, are more thought-out. They’re mindful and reflective.

So, it’s important to first recognize that you always have a choice: to either react or respond. To resist the impulse.

Here are four solid questions to ask yourself:

o Why do I feel this way?
o What kinds of things am I reactive to?
o What would be an appropriate way to respond?
o What are the emotional triggers that generate anxiety inside me that prevent me from listening well?

4. Say what you see. Use statements of observation that are non-judgmental, non-comparison based and non-YOU-oriented. Phrases That Payses include:

o “I noticed…”
o “Tell me about…”
o “I wonder if…”
o “How do you feel about…?”
o “Here’s what I observed…”

Comments like these accomplish several goals. First of all, an objective piece of feedback doesn’t challenge someone’s character or attitude. Secondly, it opens the door to discussion. Thirdly, it fosters explanation, not accusation. And lastly, it doesn’t put the other person on the spot for an immediate answer.

5. Conduct internal dialogues. During periods of silence that precede your reactions responses, pay attention to what’s happening inside you while you listen. Consult the Spirits. The Powers That Be. The Muse. The Third Ear.

Or whatever you call it.

Ask yourself NOT, “What do I want to say?” but rather, “What wants to be said next?” and “What’s the next question that wants to be asked?”

Then, wait for your Inner Voice to respond.

– – –

As you can see, Growing Bigger Ears is about a series of CHOICES.

The choice to be objective.
The choice to pause, not jump.
The choice to respond, not react.
The choice to be objective, not reactive.
The choice to conserve your emotional energy.
The choice to replace defensiveness with understanding.

What’s more, because human beings shape their identity by the way others respond to them, your actions play a significant role in the formation of someone’s self-image.

SO REMEMBER:i Objective, not reactive.

Be known as someone who welcomes the truth no matter how disturbing or difficult it might be to hear.

Listen for what the person is trying to communicate AND what they’re actually saying.

After all, it’s awfully hard to Grow Bigger Ears when your Emotional Reactivity is louder than what the other person says.

How do you remain emotionally objective?

For a list of 8 non-threatening, objective and inviting Phrases That Payses that demonstrate emotional objectivity, send an email to scott@hellomynameisscott.com and I’ll hook you up!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Tired of your employees avoiding you?
Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on NametagTV.com!

Watch video lessons on getting them to come to YOU!

15 ways to become (intentionally) dumber

It’s OK to be dumb once in a while.

After all, the word dumb means, “Unable to speak or ignorant.”

So, it doesn’t mean you’re stupid.

It just means you’re willing to admit that you don’t know everything.

LESSON LEARNED: Smart people dare to be dumb.

It’s more human.
It’s more relatable.
It’s more approachable.

Now, that doesn’t mean you need to be dumb ALL the time!

Just enough to keep yourself accountable, and to keep other people comfortable.

Here are 15 Phrases That Payses to help you sound dumber TODAY:

1. Here’s a dumb question…
2. I don’t know what that means.
3. I need to write that down so I can look it up later!
4. I never knew that!
5. I never thought of it that way!
6. I don’t know. (My favorite!)
7. Is that bad?
8. Is that good?
9. Wait, I don’t understand…
11. What does that word mean?
12. Tell me what you mean by…
13. Help me understand…
14. Tell me that again, I didn’t follow.
15. I’ve never heard that before…

THE SECRET IS: being approachable is about NOT being a know-it-all.

It’s about being constantly curious.
It’s about being an asker, not a teller.
It’s about being open to lifelong learning.
It’s about being confident enough to be humble.

Not to mention, when you’re willing to become (intentionally) dumber, that gives other people permission to do the same.

And clients LOVE to have someone they can feel dumb in front of.

SO, I DARE YOU: be dumber today.

My, that’s a lovely accent you’ve got … New Jersey?

Are you willing to be dumb?

Share your best example of how being dumb paid off!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Coaching, schmoaching.

No systems. No formulas. Just someone who (actually) listens, asks KILLER questions and facilitates creative breakthroughs.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

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