West Yorkshire Mentor Guide

may be very short - how long have you worked in your current role? 3. Closed Questions: These are questions which evoke a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response and in doing so narrow down the opportunity for the Mentee to expand, closing down the discussion e.g. ‘Do you…?’;; ‘Did you…?’. Continual use of closed questions will restrict the discussion, resulting in the Mentee saying less and the Mentor asking more and more questions. The overall effect is poor communication and a difficult environment to work within. There are times when closed questions are useful. They can be used to summarise and confirm a discussion, bringing parties up to speed and to the same level e.g. ‘So, you are saying that you don’t have an issue with...?’. Avoid asking multiple questions. These are a number of different questions asked within the same sentence. They are unclear, cause confusion and stop both parties from focusing on the meeting. An important skill in communicating well is the ability to ask the right questions. Questions break down into two broad categories. Open questions allow you to gain more information, whereas closed questions will generally just get you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Closed questions can be useful when you need to check facts or confirm information and details. Open questions allow the responder to either give you lots of information or they cut quickly through to the fact that you need to know. They usually begin with the following words and are contained in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, The Elephant’s Child: I Keep six honest serving-men, (They taught me all I knew) Their names are What and Where and When, And How and Why and Who. Be careful when using ‘why’ as this can be perceived as quite challenging. For example, if you ask someone ‘why did you go there on holiday?’ they will feel that they have to justify their choice. If you ask, ‘how come you chose there?’ you are more likely to get an insight into their likes and dislikes. There are some other tools that you can use to help people speak more freely. Try using TED and PIE. T – tell me … E – explain … D – describe … P – precisely I – in detail E – exactly Also silence is very powerful at encouraging others to speak. It is particularly useful with people who are slower thinkers. However, keep an eye on the non- verbal communicators, as they will show when people are starting to get uncomfortable and it is time for you to speak again.


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