Dr. Chester L. Karrass writes: “The most direct route to understanding is through a good question.” The negotiating skills expert may well be onto something. Questions open up to information and enhance engagement, leading to more productive negotiation. And that should be everyone’s goal.
Karrass suggests using open-ended questions. These begin with:
- What, where, when and how
- “Help me understand” or “explain/describe to me”
Be careful when using “why” – it may be interpreted as a challenge. Here are a few other don’ts:
- Don’t close an ear. Listen.
- Don’t look for a fight.
- Don’t ask show-offy questions to prove your intelligence.
- Don’t act like a lawyer. This is not a courtroom trial.
Here are a few do’s:
- Prepare your questions in advance.
- Pluck up your courage to ask what you think may appear to be dumb questions.
- Be strong enough to ask prying questions that may make a difference.
- Use every early contact as a fact-finding opportunity.
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