(This is the last in a five-part series on the basic principles of questioning, starting here. You can also go forward in the series by using the links at left.)
As a continuation of the previous post, there are four basic listening techniques to reply to the interviewee’s answers. Each will demonstrate that you’re pro-actively listening to the respondent, and will also in turn, will increase the efficiency of your listening.
Perhaps the easiest listening technique, paraphrasing means re-stating an answer in different words without altering its meaning. It shows you’re listening, it shows the interviewee that you’re thinking about what they’re saying, and it ensures that you understand their answer.
For example: “So what you’re saying is this: (repeat their answer but use different words or phrases).”
2. Itemized Response
This technique helps you to clarify and simplify an interviewee’s answer, particularly if their answer wasn’t clear or organized. You simply repeat or list the key points. For example: “Let me see if I understand. The problems you’ve outlined are (Point A), (Point B), and (Point C).”
3. Agree & Acknowledge
This technique allows you to repeat the interviewee’s key points, and by doing so, you show you agree and want to expand your conversation to hypothetical or future considerations.
For example: “I agree with you that (Point X) and (Point Y) are the right steps to do. What do you think should happen then?”
This technique is similar to Open / Subjective Questions because you not only clarify the key points, but also ask for their own professional or personal opinion.
For example: “You clearly believe that (Point A) and (Point B) need to happen very soon, but where and when do you think (Points X and Y) should be considered?”
Finally, even the best listeners have a difficult time listening well every day. That’s why it’s good to have more than one listener, if possible. It’s also why you should never facilitate or lead your own brainstorm or meeting. By itself, listening is a difficult skill. But to listen well, facilitate well, and write well is next to impossible – and more so, unnecessary. Assign one of more tasks to others.
Do you have any other suggestions to listen more effectively?