The Power of Questions: Seven Tips
Changing my mind is difficult for you to do.
But I do it all of the time. So one of the most powerful ways for you to change my mind is to ask me questions. When I answer them, you have compelled me to think for myself.
When you ask good questions, you compel me to think in new ways.
Here are seven tips to help you ask good questions
- Reduce friction and resistance by starting with wide open questions
that invite me to consider the context fully.
- Show me that you are listening, by paying attention, not interrupting,
and re-using key words and phrases.
- If my answers betray strong emotions, be respectful of those emotions,
empathise with them, and wait until they subside before you expect me
to think wholly rationally.
- Use probing questions that invite me to enquire deeply into the facts,
evidence, and detail… once those emotions have subsided.
- Don’t try to catch me out or be clever with leading questions. Simple
questions not only generate the clearest insight but are least likely to
leave me feeling manipulated.
- Avoid the danger word: “why”. This can evoke defensive responses.
Replace it with “how” or “what” questions, like:
- “How did you decide …”
- “What were your thoughts when …”
- Be open to a surprise. You may not change my mind: I may change
yours. Genuine questions can expose genuine answers and, if you are
wrong, be prepared to admit it.