There are 5 simple steps to draw out more information from the person you are having a conversation with. It might be that you are the introvert and need a hand, or that the person you are speaking with is an introvert and if that is the case, it can be a challenge to have them open up.
The Simple, How When Where why and Who questions are starting to run dry and you want more details.
Follow this process for probing and you will discover all that you need.
Probing questions can also help you to investigate in more detail.
Many people are better at presenting their own point of view than they are at drawing out information from others. Your role as a good communicator is to draw out information from the individual that will help you understand the issue. A good name for this skill of gathering information from others is probing.
When you probe, you:
- Get others involved and participating. Since probes are designed to produce a response, it’s unlikely the other person will remain passive.
- Get important information on the table. People may not volunteer information, or the information they present may not be clear. Your probes help people open up and present or clarify their information.
- Force yourself to listen. Since probes are most effective in a sequence, you have to listen to a person’s response.
- Help improve communication on both sides of the table.
There are five ways to probe, each are described below.
1. Ask an open question
One of the most common ways of probing is to ask an open question, such as:
- “Can you describe that more clearly?”
- “Would you give me a specific example of what you mean?”
- “What do you think we should do?”
The difficulty here is that if you ask too many of these probing questions, the other person begins to feel like they are being interrogated. Be thoughtful about what and how you ask. Consider how many probes you really need to offer.
A second, very effective way of probing is a pause. Stop talking. Let the other person fill the silence.
3. Ask a reflective or mirroring question
A third way is to ask a reflective or mirroring question. For example, let’s say the person has just said, “What I really want is more variety in my work.” You may respond by just reflecting back to them, “Variety?” The reflective question usually provides you with an expanded answer without you needing to ask more questions. Of course, it is best used in conjunction with a pause.
Reflective questions or statements focus on clarifying and summarising without interrupting the flow of the conversation. They indicate your intent to understand the sender’s thoughts and feelings.
A fourth method that is particularly useful to make certain you understand what has just been said is paraphrasing in your own words. An example: “So if I understand you correctly, you…”
You can use this response to show that you want to increase the accuracy of your understanding of what has just been said. You may also want to use it to ensure the sender hears what he has just said. Finally, paraphrasing reassures the sender that you are trying to understand what they are saying.
5. Ask a summary question
The fifth method, most often used as a conversation is winding down, is the summary question. Example: “You have tried ignoring the scent of your colleague’s cologne, you have talked with him about how it affects your allergies, and you have tried shutting your door to keep the scent from your workspace. None of these has worked and now you are asking me to intervene. Have I got it right?”
Now you should find all communication clear, easy and fulfilling. Do let me know if this or any of my other communication posts have helped you at all.