How to Get Stakeholders to Open Up During Elicitation Sessions

If you’ve worked as a Business Analyst for a while, you’ve probably encountered stakeholders who appear quite economical with information. You know there’s more to the issue than they’re letting on. While there are multiple reasons why stakeholders may hold back information (see How to Deal With A Difficult Stakeholder), there are also some basic approaches you can adopt, all of which are recommended by psychologists, to encourage stakeholders to speak or open up.

Here we go:

1. Use words that encourage conversation: Examples of encouraging words are, “I see”, “Uh huh”, “Oh, really?”. Other approaches you can adopt to get the feedback you need include nodding your head, maintaining a positive expression on your face and leaning forward with interest, to encourage stakeholders to speak during elicitation sessions.

2. Silence is another powerful approach. Punctuating the elicitation session intermittently with silence can help to trigger discussions. Keep an expectant expression on your face to indicate your interest in the subject. Silence may encourage your stakeholder to keep talking and clarify their position, after you've made your point.

3. Another approach is reflecting. This involves repeating certain words you would like to learn more about. The stakeholder you’re interviewing most likely won’t know you’re doing it and it will encourage them to open up.

4. Paraphrasing is another technique you can adopt and it’s all about repeating what your stakeholder has said in your own words. This will encourage the stakeholder to either confirm your understanding or offer more clarification, if needed.

Which approach would you rather adopt? Do leave a comment below.