To achieve Step 7, individuals will be able to use appropriate open questions to demonstrate that they are listening and to open up the conversation to learn more.
In earlier steps, the focus has been on how to listen effectively, and then how to use body language and eye contact to show listening.
The building blocks of this step are learning how to:
An important part of asking good questions is to know the right type of question to ask at the right time. There are two big types of questions:
The value of open questions is that they can demonstrate to the speaker that you have listened to what they have said so far, as well as permitting the speaker to expand upon the topic they are sharing. It may open up new and interesting lines of enquiry.
It is possible to combine a closed question with an open question to extend the conversation further too. For example, ‘did you consider doing that, and how did you make your decision?’ or ‘do you like this, and why?’
In education, you will listen to many types of talks, presentations and discussions. These might be about something you have studied, a particular career path or a speech to persuade others to allow an event or change to take place. In these situations, the use of open and closed questions can benefit the listener. Open questions demonstrate to others that you have listened well but they also help you to gain a deeper understanding of the issues being discussed. This can help you to make a more informed choice about a matter.
In school, college or university you might be studying complex topics. Closed questions can be helpful to confirm facts or details and, as time is often limited in education, they are quick to answer. Being able to ask effective open and closed questions can help you to break down complicated issues and build your knowledge successfully.
In the workplace, there are many occasions when we are listening to others. We might be meeting with a new client who is explaining what they want, speaking with a manager about an important account or interacting with a customer on the shop floor. In order to understand their perspective or how to best support them, open and closed questions are an effective way to check your sense of a situation as well as learn more. It is important to know which type of question will best support the overall outcome you are aiming for so having a clear understanding of both types will be crucial.
We learn about life by asking questions. Using open questions allows us to find out more about a topic, a person or a situation that will help us to better understand it. In our wider lives, we may find that we take part in activities or tasks that are out of our comfort zone. This might be a learning a new craft, participating in a race or joining a club. When learning something new or experiencing something for the first time, we might need to ask questions to build our understanding. If there are multiple people taking part, we need to ensure we ask the right questions in the time we have.
Open questions can also help you to build positive relationships with others. As there is no right or wrong answer, people may feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and you might learn more about them or their opinion.
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 step lends itself to easy reinforcement across learning. For example:
This step can be assessed through a simple assignment or observation. For example:
This step will be relevant for all people who receive verbal instructions. This step is particularly relevant to individuals working on more complex tasks or projects and to those involved in receiving or setting work for other people.
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 through observation. For instance:
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: