The Best Answer is a Question
A family friend of mine is trying to sell his house. He went through the long process of updating the home and putting it on the market. And he finally got an offer from a couple.
The deal was in place, but then it vanished. You’ll never believe the reason why.
People rarely tell you the truth. Big lies. Little lies. White lies. It happens all of the time.
“Individuals are honest only to the extent that suits them, including their desire to please others.” — Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational
Think about all your daily interactions. It could be with a loved one, co-worker, client, customer, or the mailman. These conversations are built on assumptions and biases. In other words — lies.
How to you combat people’s dishonesty? The best answer is with a question.
My father over-communicates. He asks question after question. When my brother and I were growing up, this used to annoy us to no end. My brother even called it the Spanish Inquisition. Torture by questions.
How was your day?
Do you like that class?
Are you ok?
Where are you going?
How are you going to get there?
Today, I understand why he asked all those questions. We were teenagers and didn’t want to tell the truth. We didn’t even want to talk. But the only way for him to get an idea of what was going on in our brains and to get closer to the truth was through questions.
It’s a simple task we often ignore. Emails are ended with please let us know if you have any questions. Instead of us asking the real questions that will create a conversation that reveals the truth.
My role in customer support is to have answers. But the real answer is in questions. The guidance you give is never one size fits all. Because people are different. That’s why I’ve learned to ask questions like these.
Why do you ask that?
Why do you say that?
Does this make sense?
Does that sound fair?
Does this help answer your question?
Does that help?
Is this what you’re looking for?
What’s preventing you from doing that today?
Can you explain that?
That’s interesting, can you tell me more?
So why was the offer pulled from the house? The couple’s kitchen table wouldn’t fit in the kitchen.
You and I know that’s not the real reason why. But what is?
The best answer is a question.