Open-Ended Questions

To find out more information ask the open-ended questions—when? what? where? who? Be cautious about asking “why” or “how” questions as they may sound like challenges of the speaker's motives, intelligence, or actions. If a speaker is visibly upset, don't succumb to the following temptations:

  • joking

  • jumping to a solution

  • responding with emotion

Joking belittles the speaker's concern and may infuriate or depress a speaker whose depth of feeling you have rejected. Joking may also cause the speaker to turn to a more empathic ear, thereby leaving you without an “early warning system,” which allows you to deal with bad news before it becomes worse.

Jumping to a solution that seems obvious to you may not seem workable to the speaker. ...

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