When communicating with someone there are many levels of possible engagement. From checking your phone while the conversation is ongoing all the way along the spectrum to making the other person feel that you are living their story as if it was your own.
Somewhere in there, closer to the second example than the first, is asking a good question, an appropriate question, a challenging question, the right question. When you do this, it proves to the speaker that not only are you listening to them, but you are also reflecting on what they are saying in real time and asking questions based on not only what you are hearing but also on where you feel the conversation might need go to next.
It’s why Gay Byrne was such a great interviewer and broadcaster.
It’s why Prince Andrew was in the news this weekend.
And it’s what sometimes separates a good musician from a great one. The ability to stick to the script faithfully vs the ability to change the script in real time and suggest places where you think the music could go next to make it even more impactful.