The Skill of Questioning

Within the book Skilled and Interpersonal Communication is a chapter titled The Skill of Questioning.
The main aim of this chapter is to describe the wide variety of questioning styles used by people in everyday life. Throughout the chapter there are several key themes. Firstly the author has examined the advantages and disadvantages of different styles of questioning. Also the author analyses the different circumstances where questioning styles may differ such as due to who is asking or being asked the question.

The chapter claims that small changes in how a question is worded can impact on the response it initiates. A study by Harris (1973) asked respondents either “How tall was the basketball player?” or  “How short was the basketball player?” Respondents who were asked the tall question gave greater heights as their answers than those who were asked the small question. This gives a clear link between the wording in a question and the response it brings.

During the chapter open and closed questions are compared. Dohrenwend (1965) carried out an investigation in which he concluded that in research interviews there are greater advantages to using closed questions as this increases the control over the answers the respondents can give. However, Dillon (1997) further argues that using closed questions in research may provide information which is inaccurate or incomplete.

I found the chapter to be very informative. It made me think about the different styles of questioning I find myself using in everyday life. I particularity found the statistics on teacher questioning to be insightful. Corey (1940) conducted a study which showed the teachers asking questions on average once every 72 seconds. While as teachers it is part of our job to ask questions, is this too many? Are children able to answer this many questions? Are we simply bombarding them? This is something that I will take into great consideration going forward with my studies.

The chapter goes into detail around the concept of implication leads. These are questions which are worded in such a way that they provide the respondent with the answer that is expected of them. Giving an opposing answer to the one expected will usually lead to the respondent being ridiculed. These sorts of questions are used a great deal within the media and politics.


Reference List

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