Focus on Listening by Clarifying

listening by clarifying

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 hereThe 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.

4 thoughts on “Focus on Listening by Clarifying”

  1. Greetings to you, dear Mary –
    Your book is timely. But I don’t think the president-elect (ugh) read it. Or if he did, he needs the refresher course. Devastating stuff, these elections! How is it possible?
    I’d love to talk sometime. I have a book coming out soon too, a memoir, King of Doubt. (You’re in it!) I’m also teaching classes on and writing about “Memoir & Mindfulness.” Will be doing a book tour this spring. We could compare stories?? Ah!
    Love to you and Roger.

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