Information questions = fact finding
Information questions provide factual information, data that we need in order to know something. The information will be finite, there is a sense of completion to the question. Most often there is really only one answer. You ask a question, you get the answer and that’s it.
“What time is room check-in at the hotel?” “3:00 p.m.” End.
Nothing more to say.
Information questions are perfect for gathering data and details. Information provides knowledge, context, orientation and basic capacity to function in life. After all, to do just about anything in life, knowledge is key. If you want to cook a meal, a recipe, knife skills and some type of cookware is required. To cook, you need some know-how.
Information may or may not be enough though. It might not be what you are after. “What’s for dinner?” “Pizza,” (infomational answer) is a different kind of a question than, “Do you want pizza or chicken for dinner?” “I like chicken more than pizza.” (decision) In this latter question, a decision is there for the taking, required actually to move forward and get the meal.
Judgment questions = yes or no
These ‘yes or no’ judgment questions depend on criteria, likes, needs etc. And decision questions have their place in the world too.
Here’s another example: “Is it worth staying in school or better to go to work?” This is an important, maybe even hard decision to make. Decision questions depend on some kind of value. Staying in school may be more important for a better future state. On the other hand, if money or the opportunity to work presents itself, the decision to put off school could make more sense. Decision questions are about determining what is more important, this or that.
Note: sometimes we make decisions without realizing it. Indecision is a form of decision making!
Creative questions redux = solid gold
Creative questions are not as much questions as they are statement starters. And statement starters are like gold nuggets: they invite us to wonder, explore how to crack them open and discover something we didn’t even know was there.
Let’s revisit the cooking analogy with creative questions. “What if I planned a meal?” “I wonder who might like to grab a bite with me?” “Where might be all the places I could eat?” “What are all the options for meals that are spicy, fast, inexpensive etc…?”
Next time you ask a question, pause and think about what type of answer you are after.
Is it information? Is it for decision making?
And what if there is an opportunity to wander, explore and think up something you never thought of?
That’s solid gold right there.