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Judge me by my questions, not my answers

Harvard Business Review recently published an article called “The Surprising Power of Questions.”  (Thanks to Olson Zaltman's Joe Plummer for sharing).

It focuses on the unconscious effects that asking questions (and HOW you ask questions) can have. Among the highlights:

  • People like you better when you ask questions.  Even something as simple as, “What am I not asking you that I should?”
  • Closed questions can be quite problematic and elicit a very different set of responses than open-ended questions.
  • Open-ended questions can elicit negative feedback successfully. (“If you were to play devil’s advocate, what would you say?”)
  • Successful sales people ask more questions – but not too many questions.  And they sprinkle their questions throughout the conversation.
  • Ask the most sensitive questions first.  Subsequent questions will feel less intrusive.

The article also has a few tips for how to respond to difficult questions.