How Many Types of Questions Are There?

by | Questionology

As I finished writing the updated edition of A More Beautiful Question, I was asked by the publisher to create an index for the book. After I created the General Index, I decided to create three more sub-indexes, including one listing the Beautiful Questioners mentioned in the book and another that guides curious readers to the various question-driven breakthrough stories sprinkled throughout the chapters. (Many of those stories are captured in the It All Started With a Question gallery here on this site.)

In making the third index, one that collected all the different types of questions discussed in the book, I found to my surprise there were more than 50 different entries covering either types of questions or types of questioning/inquiry.

I thought I’d share that interesting list below. (Sorry that I don’t have time to define them all here, but the page numbers tell you where you can locate them in the book.)

Two things to point out about this list. First, it is by no means comprehensive. There are types of questions (such as rhetorical questions) that are not on the list simply because I didn’t discuss them in A More Beautiful Question.

Second, if you don’t recognize some of these terms it may be because I coined them myself. As a questionologist, I have license to do that kind of thing.

If I had to pick a favorite from all these types of questions? I think I like constraint questions best, though I’m quite partial to “How Might We” questions, as well.

A More Beautiful Question


actionable question, 8

ambulatory inquiry, 149

appreciative inquiry, 18, 146

authentic question, 167

AWE question (And What Else?), 183

beautiful question

definition of, 8–9

ee cummings line, 3

finding your own, 205–212

sharing your, 211

best-case scenario question, 205

bridge question, 189

challenger question, 84–85

closed question, 17, 25, 58, 88–89

collaborative inquiry, 120, 125, 127, 153

compound question, 210

connective inquiry, 33, 49, 70, 94, 96–97, 100–101, 105–106, 112, 205

consensus-building question, 190

constraint question, 109–110

contextual inquiry, 31, 71, 86, 90–91, 101

counterfeit question, 167

cupid questions (that may cause you to fall in love), 183

east/west question, 182–183

echo question, 181

entrepreneurial question, 138

five whys, 86–87

follow-up question, 37, 40, 145, 182–184

guiding question, 184–187

“How Might We” question, 127–129

effectiveness of, 128

origin of, 128

use by Google, 129

humble inquiry, 149

ice-breaker question, 200

immersive questioning, 91

innovative questioning, 27, 127–129

“invisible teapot” question, 167

jugular question, 161

leader question, 141–146

mirror question, 181

mission question, 152–153

naïve question, 12, 69, 71, 74–75

north/south question, 182–183

open-ended question, 17, 25, 88, 133, 149, 173, 175, 186

paraphrasing question, 181

passion question, 203

perspective-shifting question, 158

productive question, 151

“question sandwich,” 178, 190

questions a leader should not ask, 146–147

“questolution” (resolution reworded as a question), 201–202

responsible questioning, 167

rote question, 200

skeptical question, 155, 163–168

speculative inquiry, 142

strategic questioning, 14, 172

“vuja de” questioning, 78–79

WAIT question (Why Am I Talking?), 180

“what if” question, 60, 95, 97, 103, 112

“why/what if/how” question framework, 7, 29–31, 69–71, 199

worst-case scenario question, 204

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