Active listening is a buzz word in ADR circles, but for good reason. Targeted questioning calls for answers to questions we already have, to promote our pre-existing goals. Active listening, by contrast, is more open-ended. The other party can drive that conversation.
With active listening, we use open ended questions, show recognition of the other party’s feelings, values and perspectives, and acknowledge their worth. A classic formulation is VECS: validate, empathize, clarify and summarize.