Prompts are important to me.
I use prompts as navigational instruments to:
- Explore ideas
- Compress what I've learned into actionable reminders
- Create spaces to meet other people in
- Reveal relationships that could explain recurrent reactions
- Reflect on where I've been so that I can better understand where I am now and where I might go next
- Scope conversations
I have found that while some prompts can create opportunity and openness, others can evaporate momentum and promote closure.
This page is an effort to name the underlying patterns the produce prompts that lead me to feel more generative with myself, other people, and the contexts we share.
NOTE: I have not yet formulated an opinion about the distinction(s) between "questions" and "prompts." Although, in the meantime, I'm going to use to the term "question" to refer to any request for information. Whereas I'm going to use the term "prompt" to refer to questions intended for use in a particular context or to elicit a particular kind of interaction or reaction.
- Prompts should be something you can immediately start answering
- Like a door handle, prompts should use language that feels natural, intuitive, easy to grab onto and engage with
- Prompts should invite you to look at something that is familiar and you can see vividly through a lens that feels fresh
- The person asking needs to be curious in the answer
- Prompt should not lead the people responding to trade or compare answers in ways that feel zero-sum
- Prompt should not require the other person to compress or make sense of something new within the same moment they are being asked to do so
- Prompt should pull people into the moment they are all present within
- Prompt should demonstrate an awareness for what the person is likely to already have/be thinking about
- Prompt should, ideally, be something the other person would be energized to answer if asked