Putting Your Questions Into Context
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00:04:28 Elicitation Practice If none of the above work, that’s where the practice of elicitation comes in.
00:08:15 Ellen Naylor in her 2016 book Win/Loss Analysis wrote about six specific elicitation techniques to get people talking.
00:08:27 Recognition Practice Human beings are social animals.
00:10:56 Complaining Technique This technique works with something else fundamental to human beings: how much we love to complain!
00:15:45 Naïveté Technique In the same vein as the above, many people can’t help speaking up when they believe that someone is not wrong exactly, but merely trying to understand, and it’s their job to clear things up for them.
00:17:57 Shift The Window This technique is a little more dramatic than the others, and may take a bit more practice, or otherwise being more familiar with the person in question.
00:21:42 Silence Practice This last technique may not seem like the others, but in many cases, it can be the most powerful of all.
00:25:05 Episode Takeaways
• Analyze the answers to these questions cautiously, and remember to place everything in context. Note how they answer, not just the content, and also not what isn’t said. Use extrapolation to draw conclusions about what their answers say about them in a more general sense.
• Questions needs to be iterative and responsive to the context and the answers you’ve already received. Also think about behavior online and in emails, or “read” a person’s possessions or home the way you would their body language. Use these observations to guide your questions.
• Elicitation leads you to the information you’re looking for, without it seeming that you are.
• Developed originally by the FBI, these techniques are really just ways to carefully work around conversational and societal norms to your advantage. They are effective because they work with human being’s natural social and behavioral tendencies.
• For example, one tendency is towards recognition, or social connection. Use compliments or accurate observations to foster a rapport with someone or strengthen your connection.
• You can also elicit information by encouraging people to complain, and in doing so, reveal something previously hidden, or else tap into the human need to correct someone’s error. Sued skillfully, most people cannot resist joining in on a complaining session or correcting an “error” you make.
• Playing dumb or using naivete or ignorance will also encourage some people to try to educate you, and share vital information, especially since you will seem so non-threatening.
• Finally, one technique is to say something quite dramatic to “shift the window” and then act as though nothing has happened; subtly, you may well elicit a revealing response. Silence can also be used effectively, since it encourages people to fill the gap with the information you want to know.
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Snap decisions based on thin slicing can be surprisingly accurate. A good technique is to trust your initial unconscious reactions (intuition) but supplement this with more deliberate observations after the fact. Note the words people use in their texts and e-mails, for example their use of pronouns, active/passive voice, swearing, accent, word choice and so on. Note how they respond to your emails, which are a form of question. Also note how emotionally charged someone’s responses are, and if this amount is appropriate to the context they are used in.Speaker:
For example, using overly negative language in seemingly benign situations can be an indicator of bad mental health or low self-esteem. Read a person’s home and possessions like you would their body language and voice: examine the closedness or openness of a home to determine sociability, for example. Notice what there is an excess of and what is conspicuously lacking in the spaces one occupies frequently. Personal possessions can make identity claims, can speak to the way a person regulates their own emotions, or can be evidence of certain past behaviors or habits. Use them to fine-tune your questions, for example, on seeing a date’s home and noticing that there’s nothing at all in the fridge, you could guess that the person isn’t very domestic, and then you could make an offhand comment like, “oh I’m a real homebody.Speaker:
I love baking especially. In my dreams I have my own cooking show!" Note that this isn’t even really a question.. but it functions as one. If the person responds by scoffing and pulling a disgusted microexpression, consider your theory confirmed! you can also rely on people’s behavior online to discern what kind of person they are, albeit some caution is necessary here.Speaker:
Pay attention to what kind of pictures people post and the emotions they convey, especially whether they are positive, neutral, or negative. Note how people respond online to questions, attention or the lack of it. Many people behave differently online when they believe they are anonymous – is there a big difference between this behavior and their public behavior? Elicitation Practice If none of the above work, that’s where the practice of elicitation comes in. It is a type of directed questioning that uses a specific conversational style to subtly encourage people to share and speak more.Speaker:
It was originally developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for use during interrogations, but quickly began to be used by corporate spies to obtain confidential information from competitors. Its origins will probably give you pause; isn’t this exactly the type of sneaky, underhanded, and manipulative stuff that we want to avoid? We can see it that way, but in reality, all of these techniques can be used for both good and evil. The techniques themselves are neutral and are a result of taking a look into the human psyche. And remember, we already engage in many sneaky tactics to make people like us—they’re just more socially acceptable ones, like wearing makeup or making our job positions sound more significant than they really are.Speaker:
Elicitation is about understanding the rules that human behavior follows, and then finding clever ways to use those to your advantage. Elicitation, when done right, won’t feel like an interrogation. To use elicitation, you make a statement that plays on the other person’s desire to respond for a variety of reasons. The other person will feel driven to respond, even if they had no prior interest in engaging. They will almost feel like they have no choice, or as though they are choosing to respond from their own free will rather than as a response to anything you’ve said.Speaker:
As with so many of the other tactics discussed in this book, the art is in being subtle. You need to learn to read between the lines. A direct question will not always get an answer; thus, it becomes important to ask indirect questions to encourage opening up. Here is an example of how elicitation works. You are trying to plan a surprise party for someone, so you need to know his schedule, his friends’ contact information, and his food and drink preferences.Speaker:
Of course, you can’t ask him for this information directly. So how might you indirectly obtain this information from him? You might say, “I’m going to buy a grape soda. Do you want one?" This will seem like a random, harmless question, but it can show you his drink preferences when he replies, “Is there root beer?” or, “Sure, grape is fine."Speaker: -: Speaker: prompts. Ellen Naylor in her: Speaker:
Recognition Practice Human beings are social animals. We’re built for spotting and connecting with people who are like us—we can’t help it. This instinct makes us desire approval and acknowledgment, which you can use to effortlessly encourage people to open up. The idea is simple: people thrive when you recognize something good about them. People cannot help but respond to compliments or kind observations—the more accurate and unusual your observation, the better.Speaker:
Mention, “I love your sweater,” and you will get a story about how the wearer obtained the sweater. Mention, “You are very thorough,” and you will get a story about how the person went to military school and learned to be thorough at all times. If you are smart about it, you can pay compliments in a more strategic way. If you are subtly trying to get a person to confess to their real opinion on a subject, you might say something like, “I love how forthright and honest you always are. You speak your mind, and that’s a rare thing these days!"Speaker:
You may just nudge them to open up and share what they’re really thinking. They may have been tight-lipped before, but any chance to enhance praise is welcome—people will usually respond according to the positive feedback they’re given, demonstrating the very trait you’ve observed, or telling you more about their values and beliefs. People have a natural desire to feel recognized and appreciated, so give them an opening to show off a little, or even tell you something you might never have been told if you asked directly. Simply show appreciation to someone and compliment them. Even if you don’t glean some fascinating bit of information from them, you’ll still strengthen rapport and learn a little more about them.Speaker:
If you say to a woman, “You’re absolutely beautiful! You look like Grace Kelly,” and she responds negatively, you know that she doesn’t value appearances all that much. Next time round, subtly compliment her intelligence, kindness, or humor, and compare the response. This is similar to recognition; people rarely turn down an opportunity to explain their accomplishments, and they rarely shy away from talking about themselves if asked in the right way. Complaining Technique This technique works with something else fundamental to human beings: how much we love to complain!Speaker:
It’s easy to get someone to open up by giving them something to commiserate with. Not only will you strengthen the rapport between you and keep things warm and casual, but you’ll bond over a “shared enemy” and learn more about the other person. It’s simple. You complain first, and they will jump at the opportunity to join you. If they don’t join in, they might open up the other way by feeling compelled to defend what you are complaining about.Speaker:
Either way, you’ve opened them up and learned more about what they care about and who they are. You might tell someone at work, “I hate these long hours without overtime pay,” and he will agree and go into more detail about how he needs money from not being paid enough. This may lead him to disclose more about his home life and how many kids he has and marital issues he has related to finances. It may also lead him to defend the long hours. Either way, you have more information now.Speaker:
The key to this technique is creating a safe environment for people to brag, complain, or show other raw emotion. The exact topic of the complaint is irrelevant—rather, it’s the act of getting people to let their guard down so they can reveal these more genuine emotions. If you complain first, you create a judgment-free zone. You lower your guard a little first. They don’t feel like they will get in trouble with you.Speaker:
In fact, they may feel that sharing in kind is simply the polite thing to do, and won’t even feel as though they are sharing about themselves at all. You don’t have to complain to kickstart this; just express your own negative emotions, vulnerabilities, or disappointments. “So they say it’s going to snow this weekend? Can you believe it? I guess I can put my flip flops away for the time being ... ” “Aw, it’s not so bad! In our house, we call it a duvet day. You know—pajamas and something trashy on TV." “Don’t tell me you watch trashy TV!" “Ah, well, actually ... ” In just a few exchanges, you’re instantly talking about this person’s private home life and their personal taste in TV. Much smoother than simply asking, “So, uh, what kind of TV do you watch?" Correction. The next thing that people really love? People love to be right.Speaker:
When you think about it, this is truly the backbone of any internet argument—it carries on because each party wants to “win." It’s not one of humanity’s finest habits, true, but the impulse to jump in and put someone right when you know they’re wrong is a powerful and irresistible one. In other words, if you want people to open up and start talking with emotion, do it by getting them a little riled about something! If you say something wrong, most people will gladly jump at the chance to correct you. If you give people an opportunity to flex their ego, most will seize it happily.Speaker:
They won’t stop there, though—you can also expect to be given a little extra information, too. Notice what specific things the other person seems defensive and passionate about. What does it mean that they don’t care if you’re wrong about the spelling of a particular word, but will get out the pitchfork if you say something untrue about a mutual friend? Basically, what does their desire to correct, and their correction itself, tell you about their values and personality? An easy way to practice this technique is to state something you know to be obviously incorrect to see if they will step in and break their silence.Speaker:
See if they can resist this primal urge. The great thing about this is that the other person will certainly not feel coerced or pushed in any way. Instead, they will feel that they are happily supplying information of their own accord. Imagine a sulky child who won’t open up and tell you about what’s happened at school that day, although you know something happened. The more you ask, the more they clam up.Speaker:
“Well, that’s fine. You don’t have to tell me about what happened. It’s just strange because I know how much you love Tuesdays because it’s PE class, and that’s your favorite." “What? It’s not my favorite!Speaker:
I hate PE. And I hate Mrs. Wheeler." “Mrs. Wheeler? She’s that awesome teacher who all the kids love, though, isn’t she?" “No.Speaker:
She isn’t. She’s horrible, and today she called me stupid in front of the whole class ... Naïveté Technique In the same vein as the above, many people can’t help speaking up when they believe that someone is not wrong exactly, but merely trying to understand, and it’s their job to clear things up for them. This principle is used to great effect in what’s commonly called the “Columbo technique,” which we’ll look at in a later chapter. But to be clear, this does not mean acting stupid; it simply means acting like you’re on the cusp of understanding—and you’ll cross that cusp with just a little more explanation from the other person.Speaker:
Most people love to feel right, and they love to advise, teach, or show the way. Acting naïve makes people feel compelled to teach, instruct, and show off their knowledge to you. People just can’t resist enlightening you, especially if you’re ninety-five percent of the way there and all people have to do is figuratively finish your sentence. “I understand most of this theory, but there’s just this one thing I’m unclear on. It could mean so many things ... ” People won’t be able to resist jumping in. You could frame your confusion as a subtle question, or leave it open-ended so the other person feels compelled to resolve the issue for you. Use phrases like: “Okay, so just to get this clear ... “Have I got that right?" (Said after something that isn’t wrong, just incomplete.)Speaker:
“So I know that A is the case, and I know about B, and I can see C, but I’m not seeing the next step." (Said when you want the other person to open up about D.) Shift The Window This technique is a little more dramatic than the others, and may take a bit more practice, or otherwise being more familiar with the person in question. This is where you say something slightly outrageous that you know won’t be answered, then pretend like you didn’t bring it up. Why does this work?Speaker:
Does it even work? It works because you have put something out there to dramatically change the tone of the conversation, but then quickly taken it back so it doesn’t officially count anymore. Of course, you have said it, and they have heard it. The “window” in this case can be thought of as a conversational frame or reference point. You might be having a very serious, guarded conversation with someone, but want to switch the frame, let’s say to a more informal, warm, and open one.Speaker:
You can do this by deliberately speaking outside of your current frame, but then backtracking a little or simply leaving your statement or question there to do its work. Think of it as a cumulative effect—when you do this a couple of times, these are the types of questions people will engage with and answer even if they were ice cold beforehand. You haven’t actually committed a faux pas per se, but you’ve shifted the boundaries of the conversation. It’s a good combination that can get people to lower their guards without them even realizing it, and eventually their window of what they feel is appropriate to be shared can shift and widen. This technique is most commonly seen when people are flirting.Speaker:
Typically, strangers meet one another in a guarded or neutral frame, and the task of the person flirting is to gently nudge this frame to something different entirely. It may take forever if you simply wait for this to happen naturally. But if you throw in a few comments or questions that encourage a different frame, you can gently push the direction of the conversation elsewhere. What’s important, though, is that you are never forcing the other person to respond to these frame shifts. Make a subtle shift, and then pull back and watch for the effect.Speaker:
If there is no active resistance or a forceful attempt to regain the previous frame, you can wait a little and try to push a little further next time. Imagine a conversation where someone is trying to subtly communicate their interest in the other person, and figure out if there is any interest in return. During an ordinary conversation about something unrelated, this person may slip in a few frame-shifting comments and questions like: “What a great idea. You see? That’s why you’re my favorite."Speaker:
“What do you think of this shirt, though? You’re a fashion forward kind of person; would you date someone who wore a shirt like this?" “Oh, don’t say that! And here I thought we had a little thing going." Subtle frame shifts can also be used by therapists who are trying to shift an avoidant client around to discussing difficult feelings, or by anyone who wants to gently broach a delicate topic, like money.Speaker:
“I’ve noticed we’ve been carefully avoiding talking about this issue with your mother ... Even if the other person doesn’t respond to this invitation to shift frames, they will have heard what you said, and may, in time, come around. Given minutes after this comment, for example, a reluctant person may randomly tell their therapist, “I know I keep avoiding talking about her. I guess I’m feeling pretty uncomfortable right now." Silence Practice This last technique may not seem like the others, but in many cases, it can be the most powerful of all.Speaker:
Here, we have to counter our own innate tendency to talk all the time and control the conversation. Instead, simply give people space to speak. Stop talking, and allow a quiet moment to open up inside the conversation. When you take a step back, people will feel compelled to take a step forward and break the awkward tension. We have all been taught that it’s “our turn” to speak in conversations when the other person stops and goes silent.Speaker:
If you signal that you expect someone to speak and are waiting for them, they may open their mouths to meet your expectations, just to keep the dialogue going. They might not immediately tell you what you want to know, but at least they’re talking again. On the other hand, some people may be holding back because they feel unsure or don’t want to be judged. They may literally just need the time it takes to gather their thoughts and speak through them. If the other person is continually talking, they may feel like they never get the chance.Speaker:
Again, it’s about being subtle and encouraging people to talk to you on their terms. You can try any of the techniques above and end them with a moment of silence to give the other person a full chance to respond. If you talk too much yourself, or jump in immediately after you’ve made a comment or question, the other person might sense that you have an agenda and that you’re trying to dominate the conversation—and clam up. Instead, use silence to communicate a few things: that you’re listening (non-judgmentally), that you’re interested in what they have to say, and that you are in effect waiting for them to say it. A silence is like an invitation.Speaker:
It’s like asking the other person, “What do you want to fill this with?" Notice the other person’s body language. The worst thing you can do is blurt out something just as they were about to speak. One way to hold silences is not to just sit and watch the other person expectantly, but rather make it comfortable. Make it seem like you are happy to talk, but also okay with not talking.Speaker:
Communicate with your tone of voice and body language that you are not especially invested in them saying anything—but that you are there should they decide to say it! This takes the pressure off them and makes it easier for them to speak up. To conclude, asking questions and eliciting information are best practiced alongside more passive observation techniques. If you observe something interesting, think of a question to pose to help you focus in on that observation and gain more insight. Working in tandem, observation and elicitation are like the active and passive poles of the same process.Speaker:
When they both inform and guide one another, you will be orders of magnitude more effective at extracting information than if you’d used either one on its own. Episode Takeaways •Analyze the answers to these questions cautiously, and remember to place everything in context. Note how they answer, not just the content, and also not what isn’t said. Use extrapolation to draw conclusions about what their answers say about them in a more general sense. •Questions needs to be iterative and responsive to the context and the answers you’ve already received.Speaker:
Also think about behavior online and in emails, or “read” a person’s possessions or home the way you would their body language. Use these observations to guide your questions. •Elicitation is more deliberate still, and uses a string of guiding questions to lead a person to give you precisely the information you’re looking for, without it seeming that you are. •Developed originally by the FBI, these techniques are really just ways to carefully work around conversational and societal norms to your advantage. They are effective because they work with human being’s natural social and behavioral tendencies.Speaker:
•For example, one tendency is towards recognition, or social connection. Use compliments or accurate observations to foster a rapport with someone or strengthen your connection. •You can also elicit information by encouraging people to complain, and in doing so, reveal something previously hidden, or else tap into the human need to correct someone’s error. Sued skillfully, most people cannot resist joining in on a complaining session or correcting an “error” you make. •Playing dumb or using naivete or ignorance will also encourage some people to try to educate you, and share vital information, especially since you will seem so non-threatening.Speaker:
•Finally, one technique is to say something quite dramatic to “shift the window” and then act as though nothing has happened; subtly, you may well elicit a revealing response. Silence can also be used effectively, since it encourages people to fill the gap with the information you want to know. you reach the end of another episode of social skills coaching connect with us at newtonmg.com and don't forget to sign up for the author's newsletter at bitly slash pkconsulting see you next Tuesday foreign