Qual Street

Dedication to the answer


Transferable skills

Transferable skills


Listening and questioning is what we do… shouldn’t we be training business in how to do this?

I’ve noticed there’s a flurry of books and articles for the business audience on how to listen and how to ask good questions. It makes sense as people aren’t great at either.

I’m keen to read more to bolster my own learning on these important topics, and I’ve got to say I’ve learned a lot, even though I like to think I’m pretty OK at both (in a research context, I’m less good IRL).

I do wonder if insight agencies and insight departments within businesses are missing a trick by not owning the expertise on this when it comes to training colleagues.

One way to get more presence and impact within a business could be by passing on transferable skills – and being a good listener and able to ask good questions is a real skill across the world of work and in life in general.

Why not, therefore run listening and question workshops for colleagues as part of continuing professional development?

If you are interested in celebrating your researcher skills, good resources to call on are:

  1. Julian Treasure’s Ted Talk on how to listen well check it out here
  2. And Indi Youngs’ book Practical Empathy which helps you understand what to listen for (thanks to DScout for their People Nerds blog which put me onto the excellent Indi)
    On how to ask good questions…
  3. This is good from the Harvard Business Review

One of the things that I found most useful when I was exploring listening was Indi Young’s way of helping to categorise what we are listening for.

She reminds us to listen out for

  1. The emotions that people are experiencing in their account
  2. The mental processing they are doing when they are describing going through an experience
  3. The rules or cultural norms or stories they are referencing that help them make sense of the experience

I think good researchers have internalised this ‘listening for’ process and the more that ‘rookies’ can aim to do this in their listening, the more they will get to an empathetic understanding of the people they are communicating with…

…and that’s why I think we should own our expertise. Researchers (at least when we are researching) are good listeners, and good at questions…

Let’s celebrate and share what we do well!


Kath Rhodes, Qual Street Owner

I love love learning and so I invest time and resources with Ambreen and Claire into exploring social psychology, neuro science, creativity and new techniques in research. Read all about it and help yourself to the ideas that will deliver your business the insight it needs

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@Qualstreet on 17 March 2023