How can I ask self-disclosing questions?

A very common way to try to get acquainted is to ask questions. Some questions may encourage self-disclosing, whereas others discourage it. "Why" questions, in general, limit answers and tend  to be closed ended, i.e., they encourage "yes" or "no" answers, or invite excuses and rationalizations. "How" or "what" questions often tend to evoke opened ended answers. Answer the following questions and notice the difference in the degree of  the amount self-disclosure! What is your favorite self-disclosing question? Did the questions seem to encourage self-disclosure, i.e., or, do as this question did, tend to evoke a "yes", or "no", answer? How do you feel revealing  yourself? What did you learn about self-disclosure and about yourself?

1. What is your favorite joke? Write one of your favorite jokes. [1]

2. What is do you think is most difficult for you to do, or say, or imagine?

3. What would be a perfect evening for you?

4. If you were to die this evening, what would you most regret not having told someone?

5.  What are you feeling as you describe yourself  now?

6. If you weren't what you are, what would you be?

7. What is it like being you?


Extra Credit: ( 10 points )

Report in the next week how people interact with you. Note what the conversation focus is.

How often do they, or you, ask self-revealing questions? What were those questions? Experiment with some self-disclosing questions yourself. What did you experience?

[1] David Johnson, Reaching Out: Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self-Actualization, 8th ed., Boston: Allyn and Bacon  2003, p.73]

Copyright 1998  [Robert Brehm]. All rights reserved.