Using Questions to Build Relationships

Today is Friday, so this post is on interpersonal competence.

Interpersonally competent people have the ability to build strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the people in their lives.

The ability to ask good questions is an important, but often overlooked, relationships building skill.  Questions engage people.  The more you engage people, the more they want to build a relationship with you.

Questions also demonstrate that you are interested in another person.  Good questions help you keep your attention focused on him or her.  When you stay focused on the other person, you are enhancing his or her self esteem.  You are letting him or her know that you want to know more about him or her and his or her thoughts and ideas.  Also, you are getting a lot of information that will be helpful to building a strong relationship with him or her.

Here are three ideas for creating and asking good questions for building relationships.

  1. Ask short questions.  Short questions make it easy for people to answer.  They are direct and clear.  “Why did you come to this event?” is a good short question.  It is clear and unambiguous – and easy to answer.
  2. Ask open ended questions.  Open ended questions cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.  Open ended questions get people talking and open up the opportunity for dialogue.  Close ended questions (those that can be answered with a simple yes or no) create more of an interrogation than a conversation.  “Do you have any children?” is a closed ended question.  “Tell me about your children” is an open ended question.
  3. Ask non judgmental questions.  Judgmental questions imply that you are looking for a specific answer.  A question like “Don’t you think that you should find another job before you quit this one?” is judgmental.  It is clear that you think that leaving a job before finding another one is not a good idea.

Good conversationalists put the emphasis on the other person.  They let him or her know that they want to hear what he or she has to say.  Short, open ended, non judgmental questions are the best way of letting someone know that you are interested in him or her. 

I consider it a good conversation when I speak less than one half of the time.  In that way, I know that I am engaging the other person and making him or her feel important.  This has helped me to build relationships with the important people in my life.

I build relationships by asking questions.   Try it, it works.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website to subscribe to my monthly ezine and for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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