Question
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Through reading numerous books on communication and field testing hundreds of techniques, a few fundamental patterns have become very apparent to me. If you’ve ever been on a date, an interview, or a networking event, you may have noticed some of these social patterns as well.

Before getting involved in an interaction with someone, ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. How can you make a person feel important upon meeting them for the first time?
  2. How can you stand out, without knowing what they expect of you?

By realizing that most people are very similar and possess some fundamental qualities by which you can appeal to them, you will be able to stand out and excel in your interactions. Remember, it never hurts to pay someone attention, a compliment, or to highlight their strong suits.

Questions are an amazing way to control communication. A properly placed question can showcase your intelligence, interest in the person, as well as direct the conversation towards your intended outcome. You could use this opportunity to gain rapport by appealing to the person’s ego.

Questions That Control Communication

Starter Question (via Liz Strauss). Try these question if you’re unsure of where to begin:

  • What do you do when you’re not doing this?
  • What is important to you?

Direct Questions. These are questions you ask based on some knowledge of the person. You use these to steer the conversation in the direction that you want. Some examples:

  • How is it that you are so passionate about this topic?
  • How could I accomplish what you have accomplished?
  • Where did you get such a lovely jacket?

Follow Up Questions. These questions are the ones you use to dig deeper into the conversation.

  • Do you remember how you felt when that happened?
  • Can you elaborate a little bit on this topic?
  • Do you remember what was going on in your mind at that time?

Some Tips

  • Appeal To All Senses. When interacting with someone, ask question that appeal to all their senses. This will make you more interesting and most importantly memorable.
  • Be Sincere, Be Interested. If you’re going to ask questions, it would help if you had a sincere interest in the person. Not being sincere and faking interest could very well be taken as an insult.
  • Pay Attention. If you’re interested in crafting brilliant follow up questions then this is a crucial step. Use what the person says, to steer the conversation deeper into whatever direction you like.
  • Ask Open Ended Questions. If you’re goal is to keep the person talking and open up to you, then ask questions that require more than just a yes or no answer.
  • Use It or Lose It. Don’t just read about these tips, go out there and try them right away. That’s the secret step between reading these articles and internalizing them.

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