How to ask questions effectively? Have you ever wondered what a powerful weapon the right questions can be? The question can direct the interlocutor’s thoughts in the right direction, or vice versa – lead away from the topic of conversation. A question can confuse or give confidence. The art of asking and getting the right answers can be an ace up the sleeve of a sales manager, but it can also help in everyday life situations. Learn how to ask questions effectively.
Closed questions are constructed in such a way that the choice of possible answers of the interlocutor is limited to two words: “Yes” or “No”. They significantly narrow his “space for maneuver.” Closed questions are good in all cases when we just need to get an affirmative answer or establish specific facts in order to adjust our further actions in the communication process.
Examples of closed questions:
Are you satisfied (suitable for you, do you like) my offer?
Maybe you need more information?
May I take it that I have dispelled your doubts?
A closed question can be asked to the interlocutor if:
- your interlocutor behaves with restraint and eschews active communication;
- you need to get a short and unambiguous answer from him;
- you want to quickly check its relation to something;
- you are sure that by asking a series of closed questions, you will receive the necessary information;
- you want to make sure you understand the other person correctly.
Closed questions can also be used to stimulate positive responses from the interlocutor by appealing to generally recognized values. For example: “Is product quality important to you?”, “Do you like working with a reliable supplier?”, “Would you like to have reliable guarantees?”. This technique is useful if the interlocutor is negatively inclined, doubts, or simply does not have enough information to make a decision.
You should remember that in some cases closed questions can “strain” the interlocutor, as they impose additional obligations on him. And who will like it?
A situation that is probably familiar to anyone who has ever walked around a shopping center or store, when, at the entrance to the sales department, a smiling and “trained” seller asks: “Is there anything I can help you with?” A question from the “forbidden” category, because help should only be offered to sick people, and we all consider ourselves healthy. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, the answer to this question will be “No.”
There are many “stupid” closed questions with predictable answers. Here are just a few of them:
Are you interested in anything? Can you help me choose? Suggest something? The guaranteed answer to these and similar questions is “No”. And you can also hear: “Help! Money”; “Kind word”; “Hold your bags.”
Do you have 5 minutes to talk to me? The question we most often hear in response is “No”; “Not now”; “Later”; “Let’s do it tomorrow”; “Sorry, I don’t have time”; “Never will be”, etc.
Are you busy now? In most cases, of course: “Yes.”
Ponytail questions are a type of closed questions. These questions guarantee a “Yes” answer, as they assume a programmed response from the interlocutor in the direction you need. As a “tail” there can be phrases: “Isn’t it true?”; “Is not it?”; “Truth?”; “Do you agree with me?”; “Correctly?”; “It is so?”. Examples:
- Everyone wants to live happily ever after, agree with me?
- Nobody wants to overpay, right?
- You are interested in purchasing a quality product, right?
In conclusion, I note that very often, in addition to the answers “Yes” and “No”, people answer closed questions: “Maybe”; “Let’s see”; “We need to think,” etc. Psychologically, we perceive such answers as positive. After all, you want to believe in good. Being “young”, I often fell for this bait. The client only said that he “maybe” will cooperate with our company. In fact, he did not promise anything, did not undertake any obligations. He needed time to “think”, and he easily said: “Maybe.” And you are already starting to live with the feeling that everything is decided. The client is yours. A day passes, a week. You start to slowly get angry at the client for the long absence of a phone call. And when, finally, you call back yourself, you will find out that other consultants will earn money on the client.
Alternative questions provide the so-called “choice without choice” and suggest several (usually two) possible answers of the interlocutor, each of which suits us. These questions require a quick decision on the part of your interlocutor. At the same time, the union “or” is most often the main component of such a question.
Examples of alternative questions:
- Is a trip to Thailand or Egypt more interesting for you?
- Do you prefer delivery in the morning or in the evening?
- Will we meet on Monday or Thursday?
- By asking alternative questions, we focus the interlocutor’s attention on the proposed options.