Part 3 – Opening a listening conversation and questions

By adopting the following listening ‘components’ you will improve your listening skills.  However, if you are ‘doing’ listening rather than ‘being’ listening, the speaker will notice and the connection will not be of the same depth or quality.  Simply being truly present with the speaker and not saying anything will be better for them than just doing what I have written here.

Clean questions

Throughout the listening session, it is important not to lead the speaker through your questions, i.e. wherever possible only ask those questions which have no suggestion of direction.  This enables the speaker to find their answers without any advice from you.  As the conversation continue you may wish to ask developing questions, such as “(and) what kind of X (is that X)?” or “(and) is there anything else about X?”

Opening question

How you open the conversation is important, one question could be, “What would you like to talk about and what are your thoughts?”

Questions and guidance

After a period of silence, leave the silence longer, then if they have not spoken ask quietly, “What more to you think, feel or want to say?”  Surprisingly, you can ask this question a number of times and it will be OK.  The mind accepts it as though it has asked the question itself.

A question for the listener is, “How far can the speaker go with their thinking before they need mine?  And how much further than that can it go?”

In offering these thoughts on listening, I wish to acknowledge the work of Nancy Kline, Author of Time to Think and More Time to Think.

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