Active Listening and Effective User Dialogue

Improve dialogue with users by enhancing your listening and questioning techniques. Practice your skills and receive feedback. Participants leave armed with a self-assessment aide, troubleshooting guide, and quick reference materials to reinforce your skills and share with colleagues.

The first part of the tutorial will introduce the concept of more effective listening in every aspect of life – including all professional interactions and ultimately interactions with users and customers. We discuss the importance of active listening and explain why we need to revisit this basic skill. To invite genuine engagement, we need to listen with a strong personal motive to learn and understand. Even when our intentions are good, what we hear is easily distorted with our own needs, biases, experiences, and agenda. We often hear what others say without understanding what they mean. Active listening improves conflict resolution, invigorates teamwork, enables productive interactions, builds trust and respect, uncovers “hidden” information, creates a safe environment, helps clarify thoughts, aids understanding of context, and so much more. We provide demos of behaviors to avoid, an overview of the basic skills, and engaging practice sessions with peer and instructor feedback.

The second half of the tutorial focuses on strategies for getting the most out of interactions with users and customers. In the Talking to Users portion, we discuss strategies for getting the “real” information from users. Users are experts at their work, but not at describing it to us in the way we need to hear it. But users know their challenges better than we do. This section includes information about how to:

  • use basic active listening techniques with customers
  • ask better questions to get higher quality information
  • manage some common challenges that arise when talking to users
  • effectively capture the information that users share with you

Each section has ample demonstrations and opportunities for participants to practice what they learn and to get feedback on their skills from both the presenter and fellow participants. The balance of practice, feedback, and discussion will provide a rich learning environment.


The goals for this tutorial are to help participants make the most of every conversation and enhance their personal, work, and user experience interactions. To support this goal, we provide participants with skills for listening and interacting with colleagues and users. We will also provide an opportunity to practice those skills and receive feedback and insights into their particular listening strengths and challenges.


  • Introduction
  • Active listening skills
  • Self-assessment, practice, and feedback
  • Summary discussion
  • Effective Questioning Techniques
  • Self-assessment, planning, practice, and feedback
  • Summary discussion