Today is the fourth and last in a series of posts examining the skill of listening and its importance to meaningful work in groups. I originally discussed listening in a post about a year ago which you can find here. The first week I wrote that listening requires us to quiet our minds. The second week I offered physical postures that support and convey an attitude of attentive listening. The third week I suggested ways to test that you heard the speaker’s intended message. Today I want to address clarifying questions to enhance understanding.
Often we hear a speaker and understand the words but we may still guess to fill in the blanks that remain for us. Rather than guessing or assuming to complete our understanding, asking open-ended questions invites the speaker to complete or deepen our understanding. Some examples of good open-ended questions include:
- Can you tell me more about…
- You spoke about … can you say more about your experiences, thoughts, concerns, etc…
- I heard you say …. I also heard you say…. Would you talk more about how you connect them?
A good clarifying question can move a conversation and a relationship a long way quickly. What open-ended questions do you rely on to develop your understanding? Please share in the comments!
Mary’s book “Talk Matters! Saving the World One Word at a Time” is now available. Click here to purchase it.