Ship30for30 Day 15 - Can better questions help?

Mon, Mar 1, 2021 2-minute read

Can better questions help? Questions are an important part of conversations, meetings, negotiations, and life in general.

There are two ways to start a question: with a verb or an interrogative-led

Verb-led questions starts with “is”, “can”, “do”, etc. These are questions leading to a yes, no, or maybe. There is a time and place for verb-led questions. Often using a verb-led question is helpful to get a person to say “No” which helps the other person be more open about saying no to a request that isn’t good for them.

With verb-led questions, be careful to not take away the right to say no, nor frame a question in a way that feels as if it is driving for a yes. We don’t want to be a stereotypical used-car salesperson from movies.

Questions like “Can you do this?” or “Isn’t this what you want?” take away the option to say no, because the framing is manipulating people’s desire to avoid saying “no” and makes the other person defensive.

Verb-led questions require very careful consideration and framing to be effective. We have to frame these questions in a way where people feel comfortable saying “no” or “no” is the default answer.
My go-to “no” based question for meetings: “Would I upset anyone if I ask a few questions?”

Questions that are framed to default to a “no” get the other person to consider what they said no to and why.

Pause to consider how the question makes the person feel, and if an open-ended question might be better.