Problems Questions Can Create

Tom Freize knows questions. Ari Galper knows. Our boy Socrates knows.

There’s no doubt that questions are a powerful way to persuade.

Through questions the party you are negotiating with can be led toward the conclusion you desire. However, the use of questions can also raise several problems that can easily kill any deal.

First, one may touch an emotional chord with a poorly worded question.

When filling out an application, the proper way to ask a woman her age is not, “When were you born?,” but “On this form, they require your age. Some people prefer ‘twenty-one’ plus. Do you have a preference?”

Second, avoid confrontational questions like, “Why would you make a demand like that?” Instead, ask “Why is that important to you?” This permits full and continuing discussion.

Third, questions can cause problems by the way of their form or substance. That means don’t ask questions that carry any vague implications or that can be turned against you.

The following illustration proves my point.

A clergyman asked his superior, “May I smoke while I pray?” Permission was emphatically denied. Another clergyman asked the same superior, “May I pray while smoking?” Permission was happily granted.

One more thought: use questions for clarification, not to score points against your adversary.

Finally, well-conceived questions can be a powerful tool for recognizing the needs of the other party…and knowing their needs puts you in a position of power and moves you closer to wrapping up the sale.

So tell, me any other problems I missed? Any horror stories you want to share from asking the wrong question?

What about this: ever asked a question and realized as soon as you asked it you wanted it back? Did that same question turn a good situation into a sour one?

Let me know what you think. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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William Bellejambe

Looking for better ways to obtain leads.


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