Review on Chapter 5 – “Finding out about others: the skill of questioning.”

Chapter 5 “Finding out about others: the skill of questioning” (Hargie, O. 2011)


The aim of this chapter is to show to that there are a variety of types of questions and how these are put across by the questioner to the person or group receiving the question can determine someone’s answer. The subject of questioning is not to be viewed as straightforward, instead they should be viewed as interpersonal, core life skills; in that without them, participation within social situations would be impossible, there would be no sense of conformation and without this,  discussions would have a lack of control.


There are many themes within the chapter, including: Social interaction of children within the learning process. Young people naturally ask a number of different questions throughout their time growing up in order to take their environment and create sense of awareness for what is going on in their life and what is going on around  them and their social situation. This can take form in their household. A claim is made within the chapter, where adults are highly encouraged to answer their queries to provide insight to what is being speculated, in confidence that their question is relevant and worth asking. However, questioning is used highly within Education, it is claimed that there is a negative correlation between questioning and self confidence. Children who are growing older do not feel as strong when asking questions than they were when they were younger. Daly et al (1994), in a US study investigated that in terms of question asking the following felt more at ease… males, whites, higher income groups, higher self esteem and those who felt accepted by the teacher. I agree with this claim, as from experience in high school, I felt reluctant to asking questions of my teachers because it was intimidating as if you were the only person struggling. Whereas, in primary school, the classroom atmosphere was welcome to questioning as that is what children do.

Within the health sector, doctors/nurses were claiming to be asking questions frequently, and not getting many questions back from their patients. A claim,made by Siminoff et al,(2006) that patients did not want to show lack of knowledge about their medical situations by asking various questions that are inevitable to a professional. I disagree with this claim as I feel that doctors are specialised within their field for a reason purely to help their patients and identify problems, rather than to be viewed as high in society.

Within the chapter, Hargie discusses the many benefits and drawbacks to using open and closed questions. It can be examined that seen that open questions enable us to go into depth; whereas a closed question leads to restrictions as the questioner is in control of what is being asked and cannot be manipulated. I agree that this is a valid claim and can be recognised in  social circumstances. However, I believe that closed questions provide direction to the conversation, whereas open questions can go off on  tangent, not relating back to the question reiterated at the point of the conversation. This can be proved by the claim made within the chapter by Smith et al, 2006 which says Their potential for structured control is one of the reasons that teachers use significantly more closed than open questions in classrooms

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.