How Questions Hinder Connection

Questions demonstrate interest and make people feel they matter.

Questions show respect, but reflection enables connection.


7 questions to evaluate your listening:

  1. What do you enjoy about listening?
  2. What does the speaker think about your listening?
  3. Why are you listening?
  4. What does your listening style reveal about your beliefs concerning yourself, others, and your role in the world?
  5. What frustrates you about listening? What do your frustrations say about you?
  6. How often do you feel antsy while you listen? What makes you antsy?
  7. How do people feel while you listen to them?

Experience suggests you aren’t as good at listening as you think.

Three types of listening:

  1. Transient listening – listening while thinking about what’s next – not really listening.
  2. Transactional listening – listening to get things done. (Important in organizational life)
  3. Transformational listening – listening to connect.

From: “Overworked and Overwhelmed,” by Scott Eblin.

Scott in his own words (1:54): 

Transformational listening – listen to connect:

Every word or behavior that invites others to protect themselves from you, prevents them from connecting with you.

The door of connection swings on feeling understood. Too many questions block connection, but reflection makes people feel understood.

Reflection transforms relationships.

Stop questioning – start reflecting:

  1. Just say it back. Use their words. We love the sound of our own words coming from others.
  2. Express what you think they mean. Did you mean…?
  3. Share how you think they feel. Be prepared to adjust your thinking.
  4. Accept their message. Acceptance isn’t agreement.
  5. Forget your agenda.
  6. Forget fixing or solving.
  7. Ask, “Is there anything else?”

Bonus: Reflect and give the gift of silence.

Barriers go down when people feel understood. Aggression invites protection; reflection invites connection.

Surprising benefit:

Reflecting places responsibility where it belongs, in their lap, not yours. The speaker, not the listener, owns the message.

What does feeling listened to do for you?

How can leaders become reflective listeners?

**This post is based on my conversation with Scott Eblin, a person I respect.