Asking good questions

A basic facilitation skill 


Different kinds of questions you can ask as a facilitator

Asking good questions is an art. The right question at the right time can help a process move forward.

Below you will find examples of useful questions you can ask as a facilitator or mediator.

You will find more on questions as a facilitation skill on the LiFT website: Elements of Transformative Dialogue

Questions to get somebody to elaborate

Can you say more about …? Can you elaborate?
For example, a person says that she is angry. As a participant or facilitator, you could respond: “you say that you are angry. Can you say more? Could you elaborate?”

Could you explain what you mean when you say…?
For example, a person says of a particular group: they just don’t care! You could ask: When you say that they don’t care, what do you mean? Can you explain?

Can you give an example?
In the same situation as the one above you could ask: could you give an example of their lack of concern? Or: how have you experienced their lack of caring?

Questions for exploring an issue

Exploring thoughts and thinking

  • Can you tell us more about this, what led you to this conclusion?
  • What do you mean when you say…?
  • Why do you think you have this opinion on…
  • Why do you think you feel this way about this issue?
  • Where did you get your information about this issue?
  • Where did you get this idea?  Where did you learn about this?
  • Do you have any personal experience with this issue?  How has that experience affected how you see it?

Exploring emotions

  • What did you feel when …?
  • What are you feeling now when you relate this?

Exploring values and beliefs

  • Why is this important to you?
  • What inspires you?

Questions that broaden perspectives

  • Do we (you) have a complete view of the situation?
  • Could there be other ways of interpreting events or viewing the situation?
  • Which other ways of interpreting this problem exist or could be “out there”?
  • Who holds these views? What are their stories? Can they be included or invited to share their stories?
  • Where do we (you) notice opposition to our stance or our actions? How is this opposition expressed?
  • Do we (you) regard your way of seeing and interpreting the situation as more correct, more legitimate or more moral?
  • How do you think others view your view of the situation?
  • How do you think they feel and think?

Source: Dialogues AB (svb)