‘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.



Communicating in Different Environments – reflective questions

Group and leadership

  • Was there a group leader?

-Our group did not have a team leader, we made decisions as a       team after we each expressed our own ideas.

  • How did this impact on the rest of the group e.g. was there some underlying resentment/ did anyone feel excluded?

-Nobody in our group felt excluded, we all worked well as a team and had good fun while doing so.

  • What was most challenging for you about working in this group? (personal reflection)

-Sometimes the work only required 3 out of the 5 members of the team so the other 2 people either had to stand and wait or find another job to do.


  • Explaining
    • How clearly did you think the group explained to you?
    • -They explained very clearly.  When Julie expressed her idea to us about the formation of the den she held up the resources that we used to give an example of how the shape would look. She went into detail about her idea which helped us to understand. When faced with the challenge of creating the roof Cameron and Hannah were great at explaining their ideas of what kind of material we would need so that Annabelle, Julie and I could easily look for something that fitted that category. There were a few gaps left at the side of our den which Annabelle suggested could be covered up by branches and leaves to give the den more protection. She was able to use communication skills to describe the size of branch and the amount of leaves we would need as well as negotiate with other teams and trade unneeded resources of ours for branches.
    • What made this clear or unclear?                                                              – demonstration, simple instructions, listening to each other, asking questions.
      • What stage of the 5Ps might have been missed out? – the preparation as we did not know what resources could be used and the time scale in which we had.


  • Environment
    • What was the impact of the environment on your communication? – I felt more relaxed and at ease outside, there seemed to be less pressure, everyone was in a cheerful mood as the activity was fun and different therefore communicated better with one another.
    • What changes did you make when explaining to others that you might not have considered in a typical classroom? – everyone was standing in a circle/bunch  while we shared our ideas. We were all in close proximity to each other.
    • How challenging was it so speak above the sounds in the environment?  How can we make this communication easier on both speaker and listener? – Personally I did not find it too challenging to speak above the sounds as we were in a quiet and secluded area which was not near any traffic.
    • When listening, did the environment distract you? How can we overcome this? –  As it was a public area we saw a few people walking their dogs which tended to distract us at times. Also hearing laughter and shouting from other groups.


  • Were your negotiations successful?  Why/Why not? – Yes, we were able to discuss with other teams about what they needed to finish their dens and also suggest ideas of how they could use our unneeded resources if they were willing to do a trade.
  • What was most challenging about these? – Many of the teams already had the same resources as us or were unwilling to trade items.
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