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More and better questions

people don’t somehow understand the link between asking questions and becoming more likable

This podcast from Harvard Business Review has some interesting ideas. If you’d rather read than listen, then follow that same link and you’ll find a transcript. Here are the ideas I liked from the podcast:

if you ask a question that presupposes the thing that they don’t want to tell you to be true, that’s a more effective strategy to getting them to tell you the truth than a question that does the opposite…you could say you’re going to be on time, right? That is kind of an optimistic assumption or you could say, I’m guessing you might be kind of late, right? And that would be a pessimistic assumption. So it’s easier for the supplier to tell the truth when you ask it in a pessimistic way because they just have to kind of confirm something. Whereas if you ask them in the optimistic way, it’s harder for the supplier to admit to that thing.

 

another type of question that I want to make the case for that’s so magical and powerful as the follow-up question. So here we’re talking about very specific examples and scenarios where certain types of questions will be good. Follow up questions are almost always good. Okay. They show that you’re listening to what the person has already said. You’re probing for more information, which shows that you listened, you care, and you want to know more, which is like the whole embodiment of empathy and perspective taking. So you seem like a very caring person and you’re smart because you’re going to learn more information. It’s like all of the good things wrapped up into one question-asking strategy.

 

if the goal is to foster a relationship and if it’s a very cooperative environment, then starting with easing your way into things I think is conducive to accomplishing that goal. But if on the other hand, the goal is a competitive situation where the goal is information elicitation, then starting with the most sensitive questions can increased disclosure overall.

 

if you’re a little more casual about it and nonchalant about the way you ask questions, that can make the other party more comfortable responding.

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