Transforming Your Leading Questions


  • Refine your skill at rephrasing leading questions in the middle of a conversation
  • Increase your ability to recognize leading questions at the moment when they’re spoken (by you or by someone else)

Estimated time: 15–30 minutes

To do this exercise, you need to collaborate with a partner who understands the concept of leading questions and can recognize when you use one. If you’ve already trained someone to help you detect them, ask that person to work with you. If not, teach your partner about leading questions or suggest that they read this chapter. Together, the two of you will role-play a conversation, as follows:

  1. Pick a situation in which you have a tendency to ask someone leading questions. (If none comes to mind, think of circumstances in which you have a strong opinion that you hope someone else will agree with.) Describe the situation to your partner, and have them role-play the other person.
  2. Talk as you normally would in this situation. Whenever your partner hears you ask a leading question, they interrupt you.
  3. Reassess your situation, asking yourself what you really want and what your goal is. Share your thoughts with your partner, and ask if they have any insights or observations to add.
  4. Rephrase your question so it’s consistent with your goal—giving your opinion, asking a question, or both—and wait for your partner to respond.
  5. Talk together about how your new strategy worked. If you’re not fully satisfied, try again. Keep trying until you find a way of communicating that works well both for you as the speaker and for your partner as the listener.

When you’re finished, switch roles. Repeat this exercise as often as you wish, until the new strategy starts to come naturally to you.


  1. Situation where I use leading questions: giving financial advice to my brother
  2. My leading question (pointed out by partner): Don’t you think you need to be saving more money?
  3. My intentions: Express my opinion and get my brother’s response
  4. Rephrase: I think it would be smart for you to start saving more money. (opinion) What do you think? (broad question)
  5. Second try: Have you given any thought to building up your savings? (narrow question)

Online Exercises Main Menu