Clarifying questions are very straight and simple questions that are based on facts. They are asked to clear any confusion or get out of any dilemma. Such questions tend to force the answerable person to be more clear and think once again. These questions require answers which is more correct and accurate. Let us know more detail about ‘Clarification Questions’.
Clarification questions are useful for conceptual clarity, and understanding about the subject in depth. They are intended to get actual feedback in any case. These questions are a kind of probing to bring out the insight. The misunderstandings are cleared through clarification questions.
What are Clarifying questions?
Clarifying questions are asked by the listener who wants to clear their doubt. They are often useful in gaining extra knowledge which may be hidden or left out but may be relevant. It is asked to the speaker to clear everything and avoid wrong understanding. It is often used to rule out assumptions if any.
Through clarification questions, the speaker also gains an insight into the information conveyed and can clarify if there is anything wrong. It is used to validate the already conveyed information but can be useful to gain new or missed information also.
Clarifications questions are used in several places such as presentations, interviews, discussions, speeches, etc. Good clarifying questions are the ones that are closely related to the topic without any personal judgment.
What are the different types of clarifying questions?
1. Open clarifying questions
They tend to elaborate on the speaker to further expand what he said before as well as confirm what he or she already said. Such questions give a chance to the speaker to explain their views in detail. It allows them to be more open and clear.
For example What made you say so? Or Why did you feel that way?
2. Closed clarifying questions
They are mere clarifications of the previously said statement without any further clarifications or new information. As the name says closed means answers in one or two words like yes or no. They are used for getting confirmation or reassuring. They leave no room for further clarification. These questions target a particular point and seek confirmation. And often starts with ‘did you’ or ‘are you, etc.
For example, Were you already aware of it? Or Did you know this already? Etc.
What is the significance of Clarification?
There is a type of governance that gives much importance to clarifying questions. It is called “Sociocracy”. In sociocracy, each participant is encouraged to ask a clarifying question before taking any decision.
However, there is a clear distinction that clarifying questions are just used for confirmation. And they should not be a form of judgment or opinion. If it is a judgment or opinion then it is not a clarifying question.
Importance of Clarification Questions
Clarification is an important part of communication skills. Clarifications involve providing feedback to the speaker. Clearing any doubts or confusion related to what the speaker said. A clarification involves checking the listener’s knowledge. That is how much he or she can grab.
The purpose of clarification is to clear the misunderstandings if any. It is to know how much the listener gets to understand what is being told by the speaker. It is a kind of check on the listener’s understanding.
The process of Clarification involves the following things:
- Non-Judgemental questioning
- Seeking feedback from participants
- Accurate stating of the facts or sentences
- Summarising the speaker’s wordings
The process of clarifying involves both asking questions and repeating the statements already told by the speaker. It is like crosschecking whatever the listener heard was correct. It can be done by summarizing the points told by the speaker.
The need for clarification arises when the listener does not get what the speaker is telling. It can be due to less knowledge on the listener’s end or maybe the speaker is telling something tough or explaining a complex concept.
So to understand this new or complex concept the listener may reach out to the speaker for further clarification. And this should be done in simple words. Clarification shows the seriousness of the listener. It also tells the speaker that the listener is interested in the topic genuinely.
Why Clarifying questions are asked?
- To have more clarity. If there is any misunderstanding. Then it can be cleared immediately through clarification questions.
- To clear misinterpretations of the listeners if any. If something is misunderstood then it can be clarified through a clarification question.
- To remove assumptions if any. As a natural human tendency, if we do not understand something. Then sometimes we assume things on our own. Which may be correct or may be wrong. Therefore clarifications questions help us to get rid of assumptions if any.
- To gain a new idea or insight. By asking these questions we may know something new or interesting which we didn’t know earlier.
- To have a new perspective before taking a decision. By listening to a fresh perspective or a new side we may be in a better position to make a good decision.
- Clarifications questions also help us to become rational without being biased.
Guidelines for asking Clarification Questions
Seeking clarification is a process of accurate information exchange between any two people where one is a speaker who conveys the information. And the other one is the listener who takes the information.
It should be in an efficient way. The message should be properly conveyed and properly understood on both sides. So to ensure proper communication and understanding, some guidelines can be followed.
- If you are unsure then don’t say it.
- Ask for the repetition instead.
- Crosscheck by precisely stating the statement.
- Ask for clarification whether you are correct or not.
- If you are unclear about something then ask for some examples.
- Or ask for further clarification for the same.
- Go for open-ended questions to seek more clarity.
- Don’t directly point out or target the speaker.
- Use a non-directive method for asking questions.
- Ask appropriate or genuine questions.
- Avoid asking unnecessary questions or questions not related to the topic.
- Be more open, curious, and interested.
- Ask relevant questions which are related.
- Use such phrases as “Am I right” or Did I get it correctly”.
- Be open to correction.
- Accept if you interpret it wrong and correct it.
- Don’t sound narrow be open and expand your horizon.
Difference between Clarification and Summary
Clarification is related to clearing doubts and misunderstandings. On the other hand, a summary refers to the brief. Only useful and important information is there in summary. It is derived from the speaker’s point of view and not from the listener’s point of view.
The main purpose of the summary is not to review or clarify. It does not elaborate or explains. Also, it does not provide any solution to a problem or confusion. It is generally done at the end of a conversation. And require less time.
It is very short and crisp instead clarification is in much depth and detail. The summary is a point-to-point discussion and highlights the main facts. clarification.
When to ask for clarifying questions?
Clarifying questions are asked when the listener faces any difficulty in understanding what the speaker says. It is asked to clear the doubt or confusion which the listener may have. It is also a tool for the speaker to get real feedback or share some additional information.
It can be asked to confirm the prior information. To confirm the order or request if any. It is asked for conceptual clarity or gains new insight. It can be asked to get a new perspective before taking an important decision. It is generally an answer or previously stated fact which is conveyed in the form of a question.
It should not be biased or based on personal judgment. It should not be a mixture. For example, College teaches you How to form a network. Did I hear you correctly? This is a real example of a clarification question. But instead of this if we change the statement like this.
Don’t you think that college does not teach you relevant skills especially networking? The above statement is a leading question and involves personal judgment or opinion. Hence, it cannot be called a clarification question.
Why we don’t ask Clarification Questions?
Some people don’t ask such questions and just live with the confusion in their minds. Until they clear it in the future through some other source or they may commit a mistake and land into trouble.
It may be due to shyness or thinking that we are less than others, or what others will think about us. All these things are irrelevant if we are not clear. Let us look at an example. Suppose we are in a hospital and the doctor suggests an intervention, a medicine which is not clear to us.
And we start thinking that what the doctor may think, Am I dull? I do not understand such a simple thing. And are not able to follow the doctor’s advice. What will happen? We will land in trouble.
The problem may increase or even become worse. Hence it is always good to clear the confusion with the help of clarifying questions. Without thinking about what the other person will think about you.
Some of the advantages of asking clarification questions are.
- By asking clarifications one can relieve their mind and clear with the doubt. Otherwise, it keeps wandering in our minds and troubles us always.
- By asking questions one also remembers that thing for the long term as it gets fed in the long term memory.
Clarification questions are good for learning, engaging, and participation. It is good for communication and can bring about fruitful discussion. It helps in getting something new and interesting. Some people do not ask for clarification or feel shy in asking clarification questions. But one should keep in mind that it will help them only. And if a person clears their doubts then they feel more confident and take about it in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is an example of a clarifying question?
Answer Did I hear you correctly? , Is this what you want to say? Is this what you mean? Etc. are some of the examples of clarifying questions. It should sound like a request for the repeat of the previously said statement or a humble request for some additional input. However, it is completely dependent on the speaker.
2) Are clarifying questions difficult to ask?
Answer No, they are not difficult to ask. One needs to keep in mind what clarification questions are. Then it is easy. Before asking clarifying questions it is necessary to listen to the speaker very carefully. Active listening is a part of clarification questions. For most people asking such questions is a real challenge but with practice and knowledge, it can be done easily.
3) What are the uses of clarifying questions?
Answer They are useful to clear doubt, increase the interest of the listener, increase the knowledge of the listener, go in-depth of the topic, clear understandings, eliminate problems, and avoid any type of confusion or conflict.
It is also used in tutoring, coaching, teaching, consultation or therapy, etc. In all these fields the clarification is needed and becomes important. Since incorrect information can be problematic. So it is always better to ask the question which is emerging in the mind and get clarity there and then itself.
4) What is the use of asking clarification questions?
Answer It clears doubt, resolves conflict, helps in decision making, encourages learning, etc. By asking such questions our vision expands and perspectives become more broadened. It is a kind of cooperation.
And can open some scope for collaboration and partnerships. Other than this it improves communication and strengthens relationships. All sorts of miscommunication are avoided so there is no possibility of a communication gap. It can be an ice breaker to start communication with a stranger. And it also helps in boosting confidence in a person. It can improve communication skills and help to overcome shyness.