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© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

Questions that Open Up the Person’s World 

As we listen, we know that every word or sentence does not exist alone but is part of pre-existing mental networks and knots, which are touched by communication. 

  1. Each message that touches a point inside a network of meanings stimulates the meanings close to that point.
  2. Messages that pass through cognitive networks and belief systems can change the structure of the network itself. 

Powerful questions can change your mind. Not only they can help us explore people’s inner worlds, but they can also change them by helping the client increase his/her own self-awareness. Receiving the permission/request to ask them, as happens in psychotherapy sessions, is enough. 

Here below you can find some examples of powerful questions, but be aware that they must be used wisely, with professional attitude, and only after receiving the client’s permission: 

  1. How long have you not felt happy? 
  2. What is the atmosphere in your home? 
  3. What do you think is possible and what do you think is impossible in your life? 
  4. What stage are you living in your life? 
  5. What have you not yet dealt with in your life? 
  6. What gives life meaning to you? 
  7. How soon would you like to feel happy? 
  8. What’s the worst thing that doesn’t have to happen in your life? 
  9. What were the worst moments of your life? 
  10. Why did we get there? 
  11. How long have you not felt carefree? 
  12. Who do you feel good with? 
  13. When do you feel good? 
  14. What are the people who give you energy and those who take away that energy from you? 
  15. Do you feel capable of planning your future? 
  16. Do you usually plan something in the day, week, month, year, several years, ever? 
  17. What is the worst offense they could cause you? 
  18. What does an existential refuge represent for you? Where do you go to heal yourself? 
  19. What would you like to do in life before you die?  
  20. How do you feel in the presence of X? (Where X is a significant person) 
  21. What do you need to pay attention to most, in order to improve your life? 
  22. Do you think you have the strength to change something in your life? 
  23. You told me that sometimes you feel like you are in a blender (reformulation). When exactly does it happen, in what situations? 
  24. Are there victims of your actions or behaviours or ways of doing things? 
  25. Who or what do you care most about in life? 
  26. If you had a magic wand and you could make 3 wishes, what would they be? 
  27. What are the quiet moments in which you regenerate? 
  28. Are they enough? 
  29. What are the confusing moments in your life? 
  30. Do you feel that you always have the right energy to face all the situations? 
  31. What is worth fighting for in life, in your opinion? 
  32. What are you fighting for? 
  33. How many energies do you have when you get up in the morning? 
  34. How are your energies when you go to sleep, what are the prevailing thoughts? 
  35. In which moments do you feel more outgoing and in which more introverted? 
  36. What is the thing that would make you say “I did it!”? 
  37. What battles did you give up? 
  38. What are the 2 most negative and the 2 most positive aspects about yourself, in your opinion? 
  39. What would a “plan B” be all right for your life? What options are there? 
  40. When did you feel hurt? 
  41. When did you feel happy beyond all limits? 
  42. If we could identify a micro-action already feasible today or tomorrow, what would that be? 

 

Some of these questions can be asked with special mental training techniques, while lying down with your eyes closed, but this requires a special type of training, because trying to read yourself deeply is not easy and, in that condition the complexity of your inner world increases, and so do the emotional responses, including emotions that lead to crying, anger, suffering, joy, etc. 

Being able to manage these reactions requires special training, at least a counselling course or an advanced coaching course. 

Releasing these responses and the emotions that accompany them is good, since it breaks the “Spiral of Silence” which, like a disease, suffocates people, companies, organizations and entire societies. 

Please note that these questions are specifically used in coaching, counselling, therapy, leadership, and other professional situations involving adults. They should not be used “just to try” especially in family environments and with children or adolescents who are unable to metabolize the emotional weight that these questions create. 

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

Silence, in listening, has its own meanings too. 

Here is an analysis taken from a video by Eckhart Tolle, to understand the deeep meanings that silence8 can have. 

 

Eckhart Tolle 

What lies between words is more important than words. It is not nothingness: it is an energy field. The very fact that you can notice the moments of silence between words means that you are bringing your mental presence to those moments, and that they are significant. 

 

In the moment of pause between sentences, you can allow yourself not to think, and if the gap becomes too long, you will notice that you can think, or you may not even think. This coming and going of thoughts is the most important thing to notice in the whole cycle of a person’s life. The sensations of thinking, of being able to think without losing self-awareness, are rare and noble moments. 

 

From the perspective of an ordinary mind, the silence between words seems almost nothing, nothing at all, something not even comprehensible. However, it is the fundamental moment of being, of the most important form of being, that which is in the background, the non-form that makes up most of ourselves. 

 

The field of awareness encompasses both words and, above all, silence, its meanings, and what emerges during silence, especially what arises from silence: sensory perception, stillness, grounding. 

 

All that matters here is to bring presence to the moments of silence, of apparent emptiness, that makes the words themselves possible. There is a special ability, the ability to stay alert outside the illusion of thought, outside the illusion that leads us to identify with the continuous flow of thoughts. 

 

Maintaining awareness even in moments of silence means gaining self-awareness, the knowledge of existing even without the need for tangible ‘things’, the knowledge of being, no matter what. 

 

Listening to and appreciating silence does not increase knowledge, but it does increase awareness. 

 

Furthermore, active listening knows how to appreciate pauses, silences, how to attribute meaning to them, how to value them, without treating them as ‘lost moments’ or wasted time. They become sacred moments, behind which the deepest meanings are hidden. 

In my coaching and counselling sessions I often invite clients to pause for a moment of silence before giving an answer to my question. And very often, this generates completely different, and deeper, responses than the immediate answer.  

Very often, precious nuggets are hidden behind a silence, and sometimes silence is the ingredient that brings them out. 

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

When listening, always assume that you will not understand everything perfectly

In this way, you will already know that the techniques of enhanced understanding that we are going to explain will be useful to you. 

Whatever we listen to, where there is a need for clarification, we can also ask for confirmation of what we have perceived, in order to be able to adjust it. In fact, we only have the possibility of making hypotheses about what we perceive, hypotheses that it is good to verify at least on the key elements, resorting to specific mechanisms: 

  1. Reformulation:I reformulate what I understood and let the interlocutor correct me on what diverges.
  2. Synthesis and recapitulation: Isummarisewhat I understood and ask if it is correct. 
  3. Reverberation or Echo: a broader reformulation taking in whole categories, among them: 
  4. i.Reverberation of data: make the sum of all the data heard, 
  5. Emotional reverberation: adding up all the emotions felt, and what they are associated  with,  

iii. Belief Map Reverberation or Belief System: add up all the perceived beliefs, which gives back the person’s “way of seeing things”.  

Eg: Here in this project we have the following actors: you, your father, the trainer, the course, the CEO, the CFO, the managers. You feel for each one that XYZ. To me, your thought seems to be XYX. Did I understand correctly? 

Among the data that we “hear”, there are also non-verbal expressions of self, clothing, a tattoo, haircut, type of shoes, and many other elements. Faced with these elements, the ‘categorisation’, the ‘stereotype’ and the summary and premature judgement may be triggered. I see a person with a floral shirt, shoes without laces, tattoos, I label him as an “alternative leftist” only to discover that he is a Management Consultant instead of the owner of a cannabis shop.  

 

“Happiness is an open mind. 

Be careful of your stereotypes and prejudices, they may trap you and make you miss out on what life has to offer.” 

Med Yones 

 

In listening, we need to give ourselves time to gather information, compare it with each other, and understand the bigger picture which is only buildable after listening to different aspects of the person, verbal, non-verbal, and unspoken, not just the “packaging of the person”. Listening to beliefs, listening to data, physical observation, observation of emotional states, when they converge, can give us a much broader picture of listening and perception. This is much more technical listening than empathic listening. Empathy consists of placing oneself in the other person’s state of mind to understand him or her. This multilevel listening, on the other hand, is a true mapping and dissection of the communication flow, where the validity and implications of each of the emerging elements are verified. The result can also be collected in a real database. 

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.