Questioning Skills

by Steve Roche

Developing your questioning technique

Avoiding interrogation

Many of the questions suggested in this topic can be quite challenging. Listen to the other person and tread lightly if you are invited into their world.

Repeated questions can seem like legal cross-examination. Some people use these types of specific question only when they are angry.

People may not take kindly to having the limitations in their thinking exposed. Pay attention to the responses and always maintain rapport – without it, no communication will ever be entirely successful.

Soften the questions by using your voice tone or by using softening phrases such as:

  • I notice...
  • I’m curious about...
  • I’m wondering what in particular you mean by...
  • Would you be willing to tell me specifically how to...
  • That’s interesting, I’m not clear about...

Reframing

Some questions can be used as sophisticated means of verbal reframing. Take, for example, the statement: ‘Your being late means you don’t care about your work’.

Possible responses that include a reframe might be

  • Isn’t it possible to be late and still care? Isn’t it possible to be punctual and uncaring? [Offering counter-examples]
  • Are you saying the most fundamental aspect of my work is simply a matter of time? [Chunking up to a bigger picture]
  • How specifically does lateness mean not caring? [Chunking down to a detail]
  • My intention was not to be late or uncaring, but to make sure I could give the job my full attention. [Emphasising intention]
  • If a surgeon is late for dinner because he’s saving a life, does that mean he doesn’t care about eating? [Using metaphor]