Talking Beyond Talk #4: Probe for Insight

soundwave probe voice

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The Probe Voice: Drilling Beyond The Surface

We are surrounded by so much information. Our probe voice is the key to understanding them better. This is a voice that takes the form of funnelled questioning, using our instincts to guide us towards generating depth and insight in the information present before us. 

The ability to probe for insight is one of the most important skills to hold for effective conversation. It gives one the opportunity to get to a deeper level of understanding, uncovering valuable information and promoting critical thinking in ourselves and others. 

In everyday life, the sound of this voice is adventurous and at times, conspiratorial. “What did she say after that, I’m intrigued” “Oh come on, there must be more to it than that!” “That’s all very well but if I were to ask you…” It’s far easier to employ the probe voice with close friends in intimate and long standing relationships than it is with strangers or even work colleagues. 

Often however, it just needs to be done. Unlike professionals such as litigators or journalists where probing is an integral part of their jobs, most of us do not employ this voice as often as we should towards effective conversation, missing the opportunity to probe for insight and unlock value in many areas of our lives.


Probe Voice: The Hidden Power  

In SoundWave, to probe refers to the brilliance of unearthing, digging deeply into an issue uncovering the (perhaps hidden) truth. The probe voice senses that there is something ‘out there’ and goes on the hunt with its armoury of persistent questioning, detailed scrutiny and an uncanny sensitivity to the social risks that it may be taking. Good probers know how to successfully ask that question that others might not dare to ask. Its power goes way beyond the simple following of a hunch!
At one level, the brilliance of unearthing is all around us so it’s easy to miss its full impact. But read a piece of investigative journalism and you’ll have a sense of how this voice leaves no stone unturned. Consider also the relentlessness of a quality audit and how this brings issues to light.

Using The Probe Voice Too Much, And Too Little

If you’ve had an encounter with a busybody neighbour or an over-concerned relative, you would understand how intrusive and uncomfortable overuse of the probe voice can be. When we probe too much, we risk participants feeling tense and defensive, reducing the likelihood of their participation within the conversation. 

However, underusing our probe voice can also be detrimental. A failure to probe for insight when it is needed results in a lost opportunity to surface further information and truths. One who does not invoke the communication skill of probing may be perceived as indifferent to the issue or situation. 

How Can We Probe For Insight Skilfully?

When we think of ‘probe’, we often think of surgical instruments used to poke and prod inside the human body, often feeling invasive, and creating discomfort, fear and anxiety. In actuality, skilful use of the probe voice is gentle and permissive, creating effective conversation through its reputation as a generator of insight. Think of it as an archaeologist’s tool that has chanced upon a new discovery, slowly and lightly digging, scraping and brushing away to uncover the entire treasure.
Intuitions, hunches and instincts play an important part in the use of the probe voice. These are the indicators that help us look for clarity, coherence and believability in what is being said, and question further on speculation. 
To fully exploit the brilliance of the probe voice, it’s important to: 
  1. Fully trust your intuition, following hints, clues, hunches and suspicions 
  1. Overcome personally held beliefs about the social inappropriateness of probing 
  1. Using listening to work out their line of questioning 
Within the brilliance of unearthing lies a fine line between insight and intrusion. As one of the riskier voices, it is important for us to tread this line carefully, knowing when to push and pull. It is important to constantly practice regulating this voice for use towards effective conversations.
Truly, the particular and exacting style of skilful probing brings people to reflect deeply, keeping them alert. This is the voice that follows its intuition in the search for understanding and meaning; the most investigative of all the voices that enables you to discover what others might miss. 

Reckon this voice sounds like you? Take our SoundWave Brilliance 3 Communication Assessment to find out your top preferred voices!

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Maalikka is the latest addition to SoundWave's team of marketing and content extraordinaries. As an avid reader, writer and learner, she’s always on the lookout for new information online or interesting conversations to inspire her. Her other passions include gaming, Netflix, and cats.

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