Tell Me More – 4 Ways To Keep Them Talking

A project manager needs to get all the information and make sure they have understood it correctly. This applies to gathering requirements, documenting issues and other project conversations. You will get more when you can keep people talking.

1. Mirror

Repeat what was said in different words. Do not add anything and do not interpret. Sometimes you will get a confirmation, which shows that you have understood what was said. In most cases, the person will add more information.

For example:
What is the problem?
I don’t have all information I need in one place.
The data is in different places?

2. Clarify

Repeat the question and introduce a clarification question. The aim is to confirm that the the right question was answered and to have the person elaborate.

For example:
What is the problem?
I don’t have all information I need in one place.
What is the problem? Do you need to assemble it?

3. Reverse Mirror

State the implied. This will either provoke a correction of your understanding or get the person to elaborate.

For example:
What is the problem?
I don’t have all information I need in one place.
You need to assemble data?

4. Echo

Take the last words said and tag on a confirmation question. The repetition tells the person to elaborate and question is to confirm the understanding.

For example:

What is the problem?
I don’t have all information I need in one place.
In one place? Is the data in different places?

Listen

You have to listen before you can keep people talking. This is more important than any of the techniques described above. You are not listening if you are thinking of what to say or how to get them to say more. One of the simplest listening tricks is to always wait a few seconds before responding. Knowing that you will wait will allow you listen better.

As a bonus, waiting, more than any of the other techniques, will get people to keep on talking. Use it with all of the methods or even by itself. Sometimes the person hasn’t finished speaking, sometimes the person wants to fill the silence. Whatever the reason, a few seconds of silence will often get you more information about the subject at hand.

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