Listen and Ask Questions to Confirm Your Understanding

Observing and more importantly, listening to your new colleagues, is a great way to learn what you need in order to do your best work. But people tend to think of listening as a passive activity. You remain silent while the other person speaks. Really listening is much more than that. As a listener, you have to engage with what you’re hearing. Good listening, as it turns out, is cooperative.

Listen and Ask Questions to Confirm Your Understanding
Listen and Ask Questions to Confirm Your Understanding

About This Course

One way to confirm your understanding is to listen and ask questions. Recall four techniques to help you actively listen at work.

Content Summary

To be an engaged, active listener
Show you’re listening
Absorb
Ask questions
Confirm
Conclusion
Take the next step
Evaluation

To be an engaged, active listener:

Show you’re listening

Minimize distractions and avoid multitasking. Give the speaker your undivided attention. Show them you’re following along by looking them in the eye, nodding your head, or even offering an occasional “Ok” or “uh-huh”.

Absorb

Focus on really understanding what’s being said. Take note of the speaker’s tone and body language. And do not use your silence as a chance to prepare your response.

Ask questions

Generally, you should let the speaker say their piece. So don’t interrupt them. But you should ask questions about what you’ve heard.

Periodically asking questions promotes discovery and insight. A good question can clarify your understanding, open up a dialogue, and prompt more learning.

Confirm

Summarize what you’ve discussed. This allows the speaker to affirm your key takeaways, correct any misunderstandings, or share additional information.

Conclusion

To be a strong listener:

  • Show you’re listening
  • Absorb
  • Ask questions
  • Confirm

Whether you’re collaborating on a single task or a complicated project, listening to you your colleagues is a good way to gather the information you need to do your job.

But valuable learning can only happen when listening is a two-way dialogue.

Take the next step

Next time a colleague speaks in a group setting, don’t just sit there silently. Make it a conversation. Engage with what they’re saying, then as a question to confirm your understanding.

Evaluation

Question

You’re responsible for training Gina, who tends to sit quietly when you explain new concepts to her.
You often have to re-explain certain things.
What might you encourage Gina to do next time you explain something to her?

A. Insist that she pay better attention since you don’t like explaining things more than once.
B. Invite her to ask follow-up questions and to confirm whether her initial understanding is correct.
C. Encourage her to at least respond, rather than just nodding her head silently.
D. Ask her to write a follow-up email summarizing what you’ve taught her.

Correct Answer:
B. Invite her to ask follow-up questions and to confirm whether her initial understanding is correct.