Questioning for clarification (or paraphrasing) is one of the major reasons we encounter difficulties in communications. In a nutshell, people neglect to ask questions or seek clarification on a subject matter or conversational point. Hence, assumptions are often made based on a small piece of information.
Secondly, people fear asking questions lest they appear ‘not to know or appear stupid’ in the eyes of the other person.
Thirdly, people just don’t care enough to give the time to get a full understanding of the situation from the other person’s viewpoint. They just want to jump in with their solution or attack — debate, confront, counter — the person.
The golden rule is ‘never assume’ because it makes an ass out of u and me.
Questioning skills are important in all verbal interpersonal communications and involve both verbal and non-verbal behaviours. There are no right or wrong questions and no right or wrong ways of asking. There are only appropriate questions and appropriate ways of asking. Timing is everything.
Knowing when to ask open, closed or probing questions is a skill worthy of development to engage people and elicit the required responses. Stop, think, and ask even if you think you understand what is being said. Ask at least two more questions to establish total clarity before jumping to conclusions, decisions, actions.
Eliminate the phrase: ‘I thought you meant’ from your vocabulary by getting clarification.
Show you care by questioning for clarification.