To achieve Step 14, individuals will show that they can use questioning to evaluate different perspectives that they are hearing.
Since Step 10, the focus has been on listening critically, including by comparing perspectives and then trying to understand where those different views come from – whether from experiences, differing interests, beliefs and values, or biases. This step builds on that by focusing on critical questioning as a way to evaluate perspectives.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
We looked in Step 11 at how to use the different perspectives that you are hearing to build a mental model of the options that are put forwards, and then build out the arguments for and against that option.
Questioning is critical here as a way of filling out some of the gaps that might emerge in this model. For instance:
We can only use questioning effectively if we are already building our mental model (which can also be on paper) of the problem and the logic that joins those elements together. This is also explored in Problem Solving Step 11 and Step 12.
The problem with biases, as we saw in Step 13, is that they are often implicit or unconscious. That means the individual with the bias is not necessarily even aware they have that bias.
This means that it is particularly important for us to use questioning to try to uncover biases for ourselves. Particularly, we can ask:
By asking thoughtful questions, we might begin to identify cognitive biases that can affect perspectives and help move the speaker towards a better decision, or at least help ourselves to evaluate better what we are hearing.
While the best questions will depend on the setting, there are some broad types of questions that are worth considering:
To get more information:
To think about the options:
To broaden perspectives:
In education, there will opportunities for us to listen to others share their perspectives on a topic. This might be during a debate, a class discussion, or when exploring an enquiry question. In school, college or university we are expanding our knowledge of the world on a daily basis and building our understanding through listening to different perspectives. During a debate or discussion, you might take the lead on researching the key question and this could involve interviewing others. Knowing what questions to ask to help you formulate the most accurate argument, devoid of bias and prejudice will be very important. By asking thoughtful questions, we can help ourselves to identify cognitive bias or prejudices that might impact our opinion or decision-making abilities.
Sharing different perspectives and viewpoints is standard practice in many workplaces. We listen to colleague’s deliver presentations, we might attend seminars on important topics, or take part in discussions to improve or develop the wider business. When building our understanding and developing our own arguments for and against different options, effective questioning of different perspectives can help us to critically evaluate what is being shared. It can also help us to identify potential bias or prejudice that might negatively impact the company’s reputation or the relationship it has with its customers or clients.
In our wider lives we are exposed to a variety of different narratives. This could include watching a political debate on the television, reading articles on an important topic or listening to a podcast discussing social issues. It is important that when we listen to the perspectives of others, we don’t just accept what we hear at face value. People’s opinions and viewpoints can be influenced by cognitive bias and prejudices. If we feel more confident in evaluating what people say through techniques such as effective questioning, the more informed and well-rounded opinions we are able to form.
To best practise this step of Listening, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This is a good step to reinforce during learning across different subjects. For instance, by introducing debate or by asking learners to take the lead on getting the information they need from the teacher on a particular topic.
More broadly, it can be reinforced by encouraging learners to take a critical approach to what they hear and to avoid accepting what they hear at face value.
This step is best assessed through a structured activity such as the debate outlined above. The teacher can look for evidence that learners can develop thoughtful questions (potentially written down individually for ease of assessment) that are appropriate and help to fill out an argument or identify bias.
This step is relevant to everyone who will use their listening skills to understand complex issues, and have to reconcile those to reach an approach to take forwards.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed by:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: