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Active Listening and Questioning Techniques

Active Listening

Things To Do

  • Show interest.
  • Support the teller with comments, e.g. Yes, hmm…
  • Support the teller with gestures, keep eye contact.
  • Allow for breaks, give time to think.
  • Listen actively, ask for additional information, e.g. You mentioned that…; Tell me more about…
  • Not just listen to what is been said but also how it is said, e.g. intonation, gestures, facial expressions.
  • Summarise and paraphrase what has been said, be open for additional information and corrections.
  • Make good use of different types of questions:

Some things to avoid

  • Closed questions that can only be answered with “yes” or “no”.
  • Asking “why”, because it is difficult for the respondent to assess whether the question is asked on the “Matter level” or the “Relationship level”. As a result, “why questions” often provoke a defensive reaction. For example, instead of asking, “Why are you late?”, the teacher could ask, “What happened that you did not make it on time?”, thus emphasising that he/she is interested in the factual side of the issue.
  • Interrupt the speaker.

Questioning Techniques

Inquiring questions

Open questions: to gather information and opinions.

Probing questions: to explore and extend.

Summary questions: to check/clarify what has been said.

Reflective questions: to get views and opinions.

Comparison questions: to explore similarities and differences.

Hypothetical questions: to think more broadly

Systemic questions

Circular: In your opinion, what would the Chairman of the Board say, if he would be here now?

Scaling: By what percentage are your satisfied with your colleague’s performance in this task?

Result-oriented: What has to change in our department in order for everybody to speak up freely?

This work by Toms Urdze is licensed under
CC BY-SA 4.0