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Questioning Skills

Yesterday was all about how to listen, so today let’s learn how to ask effective questions.

You see, the whole point of asking a question is to find out more information so you can help the family.  Some ways of asking questions are likely to lead to the gathering of more information, other ways are likely to hinder information gathering.

Example One:

Do not ask close-ended questions.  Close-ended questions can be answered with a yes or no, and when given this type of question most people will not offer other information.  Instead ask open-ended questions that encourage the sharing of information.

Close-ended “Have you been following the eating plan I gave you?”

Open-ended “Tell me about the foods you have been eating.”

Example Two:

Do not begin questions with “Why?” It sounds accusatory and so stops the sharing of information.  Instead ask for more information.

Why Question: “Why have you been eating nothing but ice cream?

More Information Question: “I would like to hear more about the day you ate nothing but ice cream.”

Example Three:

Do not ask leading questions that leave the listener expecting there is only one right answer.  Instead, ask non-judgmental questions.

Leading question: “You haven’t been drinking alcohol, have you?”

Non-judgmental question: “How much alcohol do you drink in a week?”

What This Means To You

So now it is your turn.  Use your next conversation to practice these good questioning techniques, and don’t forget about the good listening techniques.  Don’t forget to come back and share about your experience.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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