Good Listeners Ask Good Questions


Some people equate good listening with sitting silently, nodding, making eye contact, and, when the speaker is done, paraphrasing what you heard.

But these things are only part of what makes someone feel that you heard them.

The best listeners go deeper by trying to understand the substance of what the other person is saying. Doing this requires that you ask questions to clarify your understanding and push the other person to better articulate their position, examine any assumptions they’re making, and see the issues in new light. You should also try to empathize with and validate any emotions the speaker is conveying.

Once you’ve made sure the person feels supported, you can offer some thoughts and ideas about the topic that could be useful to the other person.

Just be careful not to high-jack the conversation so that you or your agenda becomes the subject of the discussion.

Adapted from “What Great Listeners Actually Do,” by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman

Trevor Lee