Boost Your Interpersonal Skills: Types and Uses of Questions You Must Know

The world of questions is far more diverse than you think. Through this guide, you will unearth a range of question types, their potential uses, and the subtlety of responding aptly. Transform your conversations, and stand out in every interpersonal interaction!”

Communicating through questions is subtle and more indirect. It possesses the additional advantage that the person typically doesn’t become defensive as a result of during interpersonal communication.

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7 Uses of Questions in Daily Conversations


There are many reasons why you should use questions. These include:

As a Means of Clarifying Confusion

A question is a tactful method testing that there is no misunderstanding. Sometimes we may not understand what we have just been told. A question comes to the rescue.

“The candidate had been talking on and on for about an hour. Finally, he said, “Now are there any questions?” “Yes,” came a voice from the rear, “who else is running?”

To Facilitate Action

Questions can stimulate progress by getting someone to take action. For example, you can ask, “What do you plan to do about it?”


To Keep the Conversation Going

Certain types of questions prevent the conversation from dropping off completely. For example, “Please tell me more?”

As a Probe To Gather More Information

To elicit information is the most commonly accepted reason to use a question and the one most people would associate with the use of questions.

To Change The Subject

Sometimes the conversation gets stuck in the quicksand of back and forth statements that lead nowhere. A well-designed question is a rope that pulls the conversation in a different direction.


To “Tie-down” a Decision

Tie-downs often are useful tools to get someone to make a decision. For example, “What would you like to do?”

To Serve as an Intervention

This challenge to the status quo is an indirect and less threatening method for someone to bring up underlying assumptions or unstated inferences. For example, “How sure are we that this information is accurate?”

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8 Types of Questions

Open Versus Closed

Closed questions are designed to be answered with a simple yes or no. Typically, these questions start with an action verb such as do, did, have, etc. Another way is to put an or in the middle of the statement.

Open-ended questions are generated around the words how what and why. The use of when and who is helpful. i.e. you don’t get a simple yes or no and answers are typically very specific.

Quick Review: Examine the questions below and determine if each is a closed or open question.



Ever wanted to uncover more about a person or a situation? Probing questions are your best tool. They prompt the other person to divulge more, often shedding light on underlying beliefs, attitudes, or feelings. For instance, asking someone, “Could you tell me a little more about it?” or “How do you feel about working here?” can encourage them to share more intimate details about their experiences.


  • Could you tell me a little more about it?”
  • “How do you feel about working here?”


These are a subtle way of “forcing” your opinion onto another. Salespeople would use these types of questions to close.

The Art of Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is an essential technique in active listening and comprehension. By restating the who, what, when, where, how in the form of a question, you indicate that you are engaged and actively trying to understand the speaker’s point. Paraphrasing questions also serve as an additional method for gathering information or making sure you understood someone correctly.

Hypothetical Questions Explore Possibilities

Hypothetical questions open up the field of possibilities and encourage creative and analytical thinking. They invite speculation on scenarios that may or may not happen, fostering problem-solving skills and contingency planning.

Hypothetical questions are considered to be a type of intervention. They are good for doing “what ifs” with people and can be used to indirectly challenge an existing idea by examining its consequences.

Rhetorical Questions 

Rhetorical questions, though not expecting an answer, are a potent tool in communication. They serve to raise an idea or an issue, without requiring a response from the listener. In some cases, the sender answers their own question, and in others, the question remains unanswered, simmering in the listener’s mind.


  • How to do know you are right?. . . I’ll tell you.
  • “We are buying this property at a time when both mortgage rates and home prices are at a historic high. What would happen if we needed to sell in two years, could we get our money back?” . . . . It would be impossible.

Leading Questions 

Leading questions are designed to elicit a specific response, steering the conversation in a desired direction. They often have an ulterior motive—to get the person to say what you want them to say. Courtrooms are a common setting for these questions, with attorneys using them to “put a spin” on the evidence or opinions in favor of their clients.


  • A defense attorney might say, “Would you agree, that you cannot say with 100% certainty that my client was at the crime scene that night?”
  • A prosecutor could say, “In your professional opinion, is it true that the defendant could have been at the crime scene that night?”

2 Common Responses To Questions Asked


Reflex Responses: Instantaneous and Automatic

These replies typically don’t require much, if any, serious thinking. The responses often roll off the tongue, like a knee-jerk reaction, in response to reflexive questions. Asking someone, “In which direction do you think the sun will rise?” will usually yield the immediate answer of “The east”. Or when you ask, “How are you?”, most people are programmed to respond with a quick “I’m fine.” These reflex responses, though not deeply thought out, help keep the conversation fluid and provide an insight into our conditioned responses.

Introspective Responses

Contrast this with introspective responses, the counterparts to reflex responses. Introspective questions push the receiver to pause and ponder before answering. These questions often dive deeper, prompting careful thought and reflection. The answers to these questions can be much more valuable and insightful, as they offer a window into the respondent’s mind and thought process.

Asking someone “What does happiness mean to you?” or “What’s your biggest fear?” might trigger a moment of silence, followed by a detailed and personal response. This type of answer can enhance mutual understanding and deepen the connection between conversationalists.


In every interaction, each question we ask and every response we give carries the potential to shape the conversation and affect the outcome. Whether they’re open or closed, clarifying or probing, questions are fundamental tools for eliciting information, generating thought, and navigating our social world. Likewise, our responses, whether reflexive or introspective, play a crucial role in expressing our thoughts and feelings.

Understanding the types and uses of questions, as well as the nature of responses, can significantly enhance our interpersonal skills, deepening our connections and enriching our communications. Remember, the quality of our conversations can be determined not just by the answers we give, but also by the questions we ask. So, continue honing your questioning skills and cultivating thoughtful responses. The art of conversation awaits your mastery.


Ways To Ask a Question is a great source for learning how to ask questions better in multiple scenarios.

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