TOFF Framework: The Architect's Guide To Asking Great Questions

November 6, 2022

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

Your conversations are lacking spark.
You struggle to connect with your client.
It seems to take forever for them to open up.

Here’s the problem:

You’re not asking enough questions.

Better yet, you’re not asking good enough questions.

And that’s an incredibly common problem.

You’re afraid of asking too many questions.

You’re not sure what question you should ask.

You want to make sure you get a chance to talk too.

Research has shown that most people enter a conversation with two goals:

  1. To learn and exchange information.

  2. To manage your impression and be liked.

But here’s the kicker:

Asking questions helps you do both!

Recent research has shown:

  • The more questions you ask, the more you will learn. (Did we really need research to prove this?)

  • People that ask more questions are better liked by the people they’re speaking with.

Basically, asking questions is a cheat code to building stronger relationships.

With that in mind, here’s how you can improve your question asking abilities:

01 // Tone

Want to know the quickest way to shut down a conversation?

Make someone feel judged.

Yikes! Nobody likes that feeling. And, as we’ve all heard before (and said to our partners), it’s not what you say but how you say it.

I suggest entering any conversation with genuine curiosity.

I wonder why this person is interested in talking to me? What challenges are they currently facing?

What will I discover?

Leading with genuine curiosity will naturally help your tone be friendly and cheerful, which will make your prospect more comfortable.

And don’t forget to SMILE 😃

02 // Open-ended

If you’ve been with me since the beginning you know how much I love open-ended questions. (Does anyone know if they’re looking for a spokesperson?)

A close-ended question has predefined answers like “yes” or “no”. For example, “Are you planning to hire an architect?” is a close-ended question.

An open-ended question requires a more elaborate response than “yes” or “no”. For example, “How will you choose an architect?” is an open-ended question.

Open-ended questions give your client the necessary space to think, speak, and reach their own discoveries. They’re powerful tools for catalyzing engaging conversations and discussions.

An easy way to produce open-ended questions is by beginning the question with a word or phrase like:

  • How…

  • What…

  • Tell me about…

  • Describe what you mean by…

I recommend writing down 5-10 open-ended questions that you can lean on when necessary.

03 // Flow

Great questions lead to great discoveries.

But sometimes we put too much pressure on a single question and forget the context.

The greatest athletes in the world require help from their teammates, trainers, and coaches in order to continue competing at the highest level.

Great questions are no different.

They require a great team of listening, digesting, and assists (for other questions) to leverage their strength.

In fact, oftentimes the most effective open-ended question is a well-positioned “Why?”.

So how do you maintain the flow of the conversation?

Understand that a healthy conversation will naturally oscillate between superficial and deep topics.

But to go deep on the right topics, you want to listen for specific triggers that require more attention.

A few triggers that I always listen for are:

  • The prospect/client takes action. For example, “We bought a plot of land.”

  • The prospect/client makes a decision. For example, “We thought that it might be best to consult with an architect first.”

  • The prospect/client has an observation. For example, “We noticed that most of the new developments are focused on sustainable design.”

These triggers are perfect opportunities to begin a deep dive with open-ended questions like:

  • Out of curiosity, why was that your first step?

  • How do you think that will help you?

  • What do you think that means?

Dive as deep as possible.

Return to the superficial .

Listen for a trigger.


04 // Frame

Here’s a secret: powerful questions can be asked multiple times in the same conversation simply by adjusting the frame of the question.

For example, you may ask:

”How does that challenge impact you?”

Which, as we learned from Tyler Tactics #003, can lead to powerful discoveries.

But don’t stop there!

Try this next:

”How does this challenge impact your family/team/employees/etc.?”

Shifting the frame of your questions between the individual, the team, and yourself will help you to get a well-rounded understanding of your clients needs.

And it makes the conversation more lively!


Asking great questions is a cheat code to building great relationships.

If you want to improve your questions, just remember to be TOFF!

  • Tone: Enter the conversation with genuine curiosity.

  • Open-Ended Questions: Give your clients the space to make their own discoveries.

  • Flow: Listen for triggers worth chasing with a team of questions.

  • Frame: Shift the subject of your questions to get a well-rounded understanding.

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