‘Finding out about others: the skill of questioning’, in Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory and Practice. 5th ed. London: Routledge.


The main aim of the chapter was to convey the different types of questioning used and which methods of questioning suits particular age groups and situations.

The key themes within the chapter are:

  • The power of asking questions to gain specific answers
  • How these questions are applied
  • The purpose of questions


Questioning is used by everyone. Sales people use questions as a tool to persuade potential buyers to invest in a product, teachers use questioning to assess a child’s understanding of a topic, and doctors use questions in order to make a diagnosis of a patient.

Kestler (1982:59) believes that detectives and lawyers should use leading questions during a cross examination to encourage confessions. It is a minimisation strategy used to only encourage yes or no answers and lead suspects into the idea that by confessing, the board will be more lenient with their penalty even though no such thing has been confirmed.

Examples of this type of questioning was used in a sexual assault trial where the lawyer said:

“She led you on and on and look at the way she was dressed, what else would you have thought?”

“She’s a bit of a slag, she was asking for it really, wasn’t she?”

The lawyer is also attempting to put answers in the suspects mouth.


The thing that I do not agree with in the chapter is the way in which the lawyer questioned the four year old girl. In this tender event she seemed to be placing the child under a lot of pressure and making her feel uncomfortable which led to an outburst. The use of the words “dickie” and “fanny” appeared inappropriate terms and the lawyer seemed to be placing a lot of answers in the childs mouth without letting her have a chance to answer properly. Embedded questions were used which “young children have a particular problem with” as is stated by Hardy and van Leeuwen, 2004.


A word that I was not aware of the definition of was “parlance”.  The definition of this is ” a particular way of speaking or using words, especially a way common to those with a particular job or interest” – Oxford Dictionary.



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