How to use Socratic questioning techniques?

What is Socratic questioning, a form of reflective inquiry?
It is a systematic and disciplined questioning that (i) focuses on fundamental concepts, principles, theories, issues or problems and (ii) can be used to pursue thought in many directions and for many purposes.

What are the benefits of Socratic questioning?

  1. to explore complex ideas
  2. to get to the truth of things
  3. to open up issues and problems
  4. to uncover assumptions
  5. to analyze concepts
  6. to distinguish what we know from what we don’t know
  7. to follow out logical implications of thought
  8. to control the discussion

How to use Socratic questioning techniques?

  1. "I keep six honest serving men (they taught me all I knew); Theirs names are What and Why and When And How And Where and Who." I have been applying Rudyard Kipling’s servants since the final year of my undergraduate days (I know it’s kind of late, but better than never).
  2. Probe reasons and get others (e.g.) to clarify their thinking e.g., "Why do you say that?", "Could you explain further?", "How does this relate to our discussion?"
  3. Probe evidence as a basis for argument e.g., "Why do you say that?", "Is there reason to doubt this evidence?","What would be an example?", "What is….analogous to?"
  4. Probe assumptions e.g., "Is this always the case?", "Why do you think that this assumption holds here?"
  5. Consider alternative viewpoints and perspectives e.g., "What is the counter-argument?", "Can/did anyone see this another way?" ,"What are the strengths and weaknesses of…?","How are…and …similar?"
  6. Imagine consequences/implications e.g., "But if…happened, what else would result?", "How does…affect…?","What are you implying?","How does…tie in with what we learned before?"
  7. Question the question e.g., "What was the point of this question?","How does…apply to everyday life?","Why do you think that I asked that question?", "Why was that question important?", "Which of your questions turned out to be the most useful?","How can my answers to your question be helpful to you?" for a nosy question from others!
  8. Put oneself in else’s shoes (distancing technique): "Imagine a specific friend/family member in the same situation or if they viewed the situation this way, what would I tell them?"

20160106 ~ the first time I heard about Socratic questioning techniques.

20160113 ~ a #happyDrink (coffee and hot chocolate) with a recently married lady from Pakistan with a good attitude.



  1. […] Don’t involve ourselves in other people’s personal lives, including the life of a married couple. In Singlish, don’t be kaypoh! Don’t be nosy and learn how to deal with nosy questions from others. […]


  2. […] use Socratic questioning techniques, consider alternative viewpoints and […]


  3. […] use Socratic questioning techniques. […]


  4. […] Hub, which also emphasizes critical thinking (asking the right/discovering questions or using the Socratic questioning techniques), systems thinking, and cultural […]


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