Your Brain on Questions: Curiosity or Quiz?

Consider these two types of questions when it comes to talking with your colleagues, employees, managers, friends, and more. Each type of question has a very different impact on how our brains respond!

Invite Curiosity Questions:

  • Open ended. Starts with “What” and sometimes “How?”
  • Releases dopamine and other “happy” neurochemicals.
  • Helps keep the brain in a flow-flourish state (Blue Zone).
  • Invites the brain to find new answers that might not have been there before or were buried and had not come to the surface.
  • When “new dots are connected,” insights come and an upward spiral begins.

Avoid Quiz Questions:

  • Close-ended. Start with “Why” “Can” “Will” “Do” “Have you?”
  • Releases stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin.
  • Helps put the brain in a fight-flight state (Red Zone).
  • There is a race in the brain to find the “right” answer, and if he/she doesn’t, there is a subtle or overt sense of failure or worry about being “less than” all the other people who supposedly have figured it out already.
  • The downward spiral deepens.
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