Maximize Your Influence

Of all the tools in your persuasion toolbox, questioning is probably the one most often used by Power Persuaders. Questions are used in the persuasion process to create mental involvement, to guide the conversation and to find out what your prospect needs. Questioning is a very diverse and useful tool. An important study observed hundreds of negotiators in action in an attempt to discover what it takes to be a top negotiator. Their key finding was that skilled negotiators ask more than twice as many questions as average negotiators.

Much like movements, questions elicit an automatic response from our brains. We are taught to answer a question when it is posed to us. We automatically think of a response when asked a question. Even if we don't verbalize the answer, we think about it in our head. Most people want to be cooperative. We don't want to be considered rude because we don't answer the questions. In this way, a question stimulates our thinking response.  

The Cheerleader Effect

How do you form a good question? First, design your questions ahead of time. The structure of your questions dictates how your listener will answer them. When asked to estimate a person's height, people will answer differently depending on whether the question asked is "How tall is he?" versus "How short is he?"

In one study, when asking how tall versus how short a basketball player was, researchers received dramatically different results. The "how tall" question received the guess of 79 inches whereas the "how short" question received the guess of 69 inches.  Words have a definite effect on how people respond. "How fast was the car going?" suggests a high speed, but "At what speed was the car traveling?" suggests a moderate speed. "How far was the intersection?" suggests the intersection was far away. 

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