Ways to Use Socratic Questioning to Improve your Conversations

Darryl Bachmeier
Aug 16, 2019

The Socratic question (sometimes referred to as the Socratic Method) involves a decent and thoughtful conversation between two or more individuals.

By using consistently focused and open-ended questions, we can open our trust and the confidence of others.

In education, we can remove the concept of ‘sage on the stage’ even if it is temporary. Instead, the teacher pretends to be dumb and acts ignorant of the matter. The student, rather than being inactive, actively helps to push the conversation forward.

Rather than teaching in the usual sense, the lesson is not planned, often without a pre-defined goal; Conversation can go its own way and is open to the teacher and students.

How to ask the Socratic questions?

Using the Socratic Question is a useful conversation shared between the teacher and the student, or the therapist and the client.

According to Professor Rob Reich, the ideal environment is one of ‘productive disorder’, but without fear and panic (Reich, 2003).

There should be no enemies, no one playing the ‘devil’s lawyer’ or testing others. Instead, it is better if you are open-minded and willing to listen and learn.

Essential elements of the Socratic Method

The Socratic Method uses questions to explore students’ values, principles, and beliefs.

By questioning, participants first try to identify and then preserve moral intuitions about the world that underlie their lifestyles. The Socratic Question does not question the logic of various and concise summaries conducted to read or compare facts, but demands that participants take into account themselves, their thoughts, actions and beliefs.

The Socratic Method focuses on moral education, on how one should live.

Socratic Question is necessary for a human advertising style. That is, instead of asking arguments or questions designed to convince anyone or all people.

All opinions in a Socratic Question are directed towards specific participants in the discussion. The meaning of the Question is not what is generally thought or said about the world, but what each participant thinks about the world.

The Socratic system demands a classroom environment of “productivity”.

In the best Socratic dialogues, there is a real tension between the narrators. Stocks are high. Will someone is invited, will the account be called?

The Socratic method is better used to prove complexity, difficulty and uncertainty than to reveal facts about the world.

According to Bertrand Russell- “As usual in philosophy, the first difficulty is to see that the problem is difficult. If you tell someone who is not trained in philosophy, ‘How do you know I have two eyes?’ He or she will answer, ‘What a funny question! I can see what you have.’ Once our investigation is over, we should not assume that we have achieved anything completely different from this irrational position.

Tips for using the Socratic method

Set up dialogue guides

Questions Learn student names, students learn each other’s names. Questions Listening to participation and the need for active engagement, it is not enough to just insert a comment in class, then stay calm throughout the day.

Ask questions and be comfortable with the silence

The mile will produce. Be prepared to wait for students to respond. There is no need to fill the conversation void; Silence creates a kind of useful tension. Use the “wait ten seconds” rule before trying to re-phrase your questions!

Find ways to create “production disorder”

Cold calling always works, but make sure to soften it with small group work so students can talk to their neighbor.

Use follow-up questions

Keep students accountable, not just for rearranging readings and lectures. Be open to learn the new things: Be prepared to say, “I don’t know the answer to that question”.

If you wish to enhance your conversation skills and make a good impression on others, try to see them engage in conversation next time.

Why do you say that?

When your conversation partner expresses an opinion that they are interested in, encourage them to explain their thinking.

Mentioning someone’s ideas and views clearly will help strengthen their argument and open you up to a wealth of productive dialogue paths.

What makes you believe this?

This question creates a cause and effect relationship between your partner’s ideas and a particular experience.

It motivates them to recall the exact moment they created the concept they just expressed. If you are lucky, they will tell you the story behind the moment of that inspiration.

Why do you think this happened?

The purpose of this question is unclear. Depending on the person to whom you are talking, you can get answers ranging from scientific facts to bizarre conspiracy theories.

Any other way to look at this?

This is a dossier. This can trigger much unexpected conversations, and you need to think in unexpected ways beforehand. Challenging your conversation partner to consider other perspectives will help you define the boundaries of their ideas and explore areas they have not previously considered.

What does this mean?

An interesting direction to trigger a conversation maybe after an event or story that your partner has shared with you. Asking them what it means can lead to a different story or speculation of the future.

Wrapping Up

These are just some of the goal-setting shareware that you can use in your daily community meetings. Used properly, they can help you become a better listener and conversationalist.

If you have any questions that will help you to maintain a good conversation, we would love to hear them and try them out.

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