Active Listening and Asking Follow-up Questions (Study Group Plan)




  • blind spot – an area in which a person lacks understanding or is not aware of something
    Example: His blind spot to the flaws in his own arguments made it difficult to have a productive conversation.
  • bias – a preference or inclination for or against a particular person, group, or idea
    Example: It’s important to be aware of our own biases in order to approach problems objectively.
  • get a read on someone – to form an impression of someone’s personality or character
    Example: It can be difficult to get a read on someone through online communication alone.
  • extract – to remove or obtain something, often through effort or force
    Example: The dentist had to extract one of my teeth because it was causing too much pain.
  • adversarial – involving or characterized by conflict or opposition
    Example: The two parties had an adversarial relationship and struggled to work together.
  • synthesize – to combine or blend different ideas, concepts, or elements to form a whole
    Example: In order to write a successful research paper, you need to be able to synthesize information from various sources.

Discussion Questions

  1. Who do you know that is an especially good or bad listener?  Describe why you think so. 
  2. How would you describe the listening relationship between you and ….
                                                                    (your parents, siblings, significant other, friends)?
  3. How would you rate yourself as a  listener?  
  4. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a listener?
  5. Do you talk more or listen more?  
  6. When you’re telling a story or sharing an opinion, how do you feel about someone interjecting their own experiences and thoughts?
  7. What are the biggest challenges to being a good listener? When are you not in a listening mood?
  8. How does listening in your native language differ from listening in a foreign language?
  9. Do you think men and women listen differently?  How so?
  10. How have listening skills benefited you in your personal and professional life? How can they in the future?



Blind spot (눈덩이): an area where a person’s view is obstructed   Example: The driver couldn’t see the car behind him because of his blind spot.

Bias (편견): a preference or inclination that inhibits impartial judgment  Example: The judge was accused of bias because he was friends with one of the lawyers.

Get a read on someone (누군가를 파악하다): to form an opinion about someone based on their behavior  Example: I can’t get a read on him because he’s always so quiet.

Extract (추출하다): to remove something from something else  Example: The dentist had to extract my tooth because it was infected.

Adversarial (적대적인): relating to hostile opposition  Example: The two teams had an adversarial relationship because they were competing against each other.

Synthesize (합성하다): to combine different elements into a whole  Example: The chemist synthesized a new compound by mixing two chemicals together.

Empathy (공감): the ability to understand and share the feelings of others  Example: She showed empathy towards her friend who was going through a tough time.

Paraphrase (바꾸어 말하다): to express something using different words  Example: Can you paraphrase what he said? I didn’t understand it.

Interject (끼어들다): to interrupt a conversation with a comment or remark  Example: She interjected during the meeting to ask a question.

Interrupt (중단시키다): to stop someone from speaking by saying or doing something  Example: He interrupted her while she was speaking.

Go-to questions (기본 질문): questions that are frequently asked in certain situations  Example: What are your go-to questions when interviewing someone?

Interrogate (심문하다): to question someone in order to obtain information  Example: The police interrogated him about his whereabouts on the night of the crime.

To offend someone (누군가를 모욕하다): to cause someone to feel hurt or upset  Example: His comments were offensive and hurtful.

Conjunctions (접속사): words used to connect clauses or sentences  Example: Some common conjunctions include “and,” “but,” and “or.”

Idioms & Sayings

  1. All ears: Listening carefully and with full attention (귀 기울이다)

   Example: I’m all ears, tell me what happened.

  1. Turn a deaf ear: To ignore or refuse to listen to someone or something (귀를 막다)

    Example: She turned a deaf ear to his complaints.

  1. Tune out:  To stop listening or paying attention (주의를 빼앗기다)

    Example: He tunes out when his boss starts talking.

  1. Fall on deaf ears: To be ignored or disregarded (무시당하다)

   Example: His advice fell on deaf ears.

  1. Give someone an earful: To scold or reprimand someone severely (꾸짖다)

   Example: She gave him an earful for coming home late.

  1. Have a tin ear: To be insensitive to music or tone-deaf (음악 감각이 없는)

   Example: He has a tin ear and can’t carry a tune.

  1. Hear it on the grapevine: To hear rumors or gossip (소문으로 듣다)

   Example: I heard it on the grapevine that she’s getting married.

  1. In one ear and out the other:  To forget something immediately after hearing it (한 귀로 듣고 다른 귀로 흘러나가다)

   Example: I told him what to do, but it went in one ear and out the other.

  1. Lend an ear:  To listen carefully and sympathetically (귀를 빌리다)

   Example: Can I lend you an ear?

  1. Make a long story short: To summarize a long story (긴 이야기를 간략하게 요약하다)

    Example: To make a long story short, he got fired.

  1. Pay attention: To listen carefully and focus on something (주의를 기울이다)

    Example: Pay attention to what I’m saying.

  1. Play it by ear:  To improvise or make decisions as one goes along (즉흥적으로 하다)

    Example: We don’t have a plan yet, so we’ll just have to play it by ear.

  1. Put in one’s two cents:  To give one’s opinion or advice (의견을 말하다)

    Example: Can I put in my two cents?

14. Catch someone’s drift: To understand someone’s point of view or what they’re trying to say. (상황을 이해하다):
      Example: “I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. Can you help me catch your drift?”

15. Talk one’s ear off : To talk excessively or for a long time. (말이 많아서 귀찮게 하다)
   Example: “She can talk your ear off if you let her. She just loves to chat.”


Endless follow-ups Activity

The goal of this activity is to practice active listening and asking follow-up questions.
Take turns being the ‘listener’.  This person asks all the questions when it is their turn.
The listener asks one of the basic questions below (or any other question they like) and keeps asking meaningful follow-up questions as long as they can. Let the conversation go where it goes.  Switch the listener role about every five minutes. 

  • What’s on your mind these days?
  • What did you do last weekend?
  • What are your plans for winter vacation?
  • How’s your semester going?
  • What do you like to do in your free time?


Question Words

Why     What, What kind of ….      Where/Where/Who….( did you first/last , do you usually….  How will you…    How often do you…    How much, How many….    Tell me more about….


  • Rephrase questions or dig a bit deeper if you’re not getting enough information to work with 
  • Signal (verbally and non-verbally) that you’re listening
  • Take your time, there’s no need to rush, give yourself and your partner time to think and process
  • Repeat your partner’s response as a question   (You like Avenger movies?)
  • Use conjunctions as questions (And?   So?  Or…..?  Because?  Then?
  • Avoid interrupting thoughts mid-stream or interjecting your own stories or opinions
  • If a question gets too personal, you can say something like: 
    • That’s too personal.       I’d rather not say.      I’m not comfortable talking about that

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