Requirements elicitation is fundamentally about communication. We gather requirements from people who know what is needed or can help us figure it out. There are other ways to find requirements but elicitation is the most effective way in most cases and is almost certainly a significant part of the requirements gathering effort in almost every case. I can not think of an example of a project I worked on that did not involve interaction and communication with people at some point to gather and validate the requirements. So it is probably a good idea to think about ways to improve our communication skills.
- First, stop talking! Let the other person have the floor. Let them know you are paying attention to what they have to say.
- Give non-verbal clues. Most importantly, make eye contact. Nod your head when you agree. (or maybe even if you don’t)
- Listen without judging or criticizing. Even if you disagree, let them express their point of view.
- Restate or paraphrase what the speaker says. This confirms your understanding and gives them a chance to clarify if necessary.
- Don’t interrupt, but when appropriate, ask good questions.
- Practice your note taking so you can record the conversation without distracting or interrupting the speaker.
Active listening is not easy. It takes focus and practice. But, the results are definitely worth the effort.