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The 7 Powers of Questions Book Cover spacer

From Chapter Six
"Power #5: Questions Get People to Open Up"

on the "Letís Talk About Me" Factor

Why does this power work? For one simple reason: Most people love to talk. Most of all, they love to talk about themselves, and they love to talk about the things that interest them. There are several reasons for this:

Itís the topic we know most about. You do not have to do a lot of research or have a degree in anything to talk about yourself. And no one else is a greater authority on the subject.

We need to unburden ourselves. Itís been proven over and over again that it is much healthier, psychologically, to let out what is bothering us - rather than keeping it all inside - especially when things are not going well. We have a need to share our problem and, hopefully, get sympathy, support, and/or advice for the people we care about.

We want to convey a particular message. There are certain topics we feel very strongly about and some that affect us emotionally. These subjects can be political, ethical, moral, or religious. As humans, we feel the need not only to share these views with others, but also to try to convince them to feel the same way we do.

Silence makes us uncomfortable. Unless we are extremely comfortable and in a familiar environment (at home with family or with close friends, for instance), there usually come a period of awkward silence. To fill that gap, we start talking, often about the subject we love most, ourselves.

There are many situations where we want to get people to open up. First, there are social occasions. Imagine that you are invited to a party and you do not know anyone there. Most of us feel awkward and shy in those circumstances. Some people feel they need several cocktails before they can begin to talk to people and have a good time. But if you have got the questioning habit, you donít need a social lubricant like alcohol. A question is your very best tool. All you have to do is go up to an individual or a group of people and start asking them questions about themselves:

  • What kind of work do you do?
  • Whatís the best movie youíve seen lately?
  • Whatís the most interesting party youíve ever been to?
  • What the most embarrassing experience you have ever had at a party?
  • Have you ever gone to a party where you didnít know anyone?
  • What would you do?
  • Why do you think so many people donít like parties?

Since people love to talk about themselves and their thoughts, they will begin to open up immediately.

Read selections from Chapter 5 Return to selections menu Read selections from Chapter 7

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