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Using Questions To Control Communication

Using Questions To Control Communication
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.

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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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