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Overcome Resistance With The Right Questions

| June 4, 2010

by Jim Bruce

No matter who we are, we will meet resistance on some matter every day.  And, according to Kevin Daley, founder of Communispond, Inc. and author of “Talk Your Way to the Top” and “Socratic Selling,” the way we handle that resistance is often counterproductive.

In “Overcome Resistance with the Right Questions”, Daley notes that our default response to resistance is more selling.  When we meet resistance, we roll out more evidence to support the idea.  And, still we hear “no.”

So, how should we proceed?  Daley argues that the better way is to ask a set of easily answered questions that helps the other individual rethink assumptions and open up the possibilities for agreement.  Richard Paul from the Center for Critical Studies suggests several different kinds of questins:

1.  Clarification – What do you mean by ____?  Can you give me an example?

2.  Assumptions – What have you assumed?  What alternative assumptions could be made?

3.  Reasons and Evidence – How do you know?  Why do you think that is true?

4.  Viewpoint and Perspectives – What does that imply?  What do you see as alternatives?

5.  Implications and Consequences – What do you think might be unintended consequences?  How can we find out?  Why is this important?

6.  Questions about Questions  –  What does this mean?  Why do you think I asked this question?

Asking the right question is only the beginning.  You have to listen carefully to the answers.  As Socrates has pointed out, you need to listen with not only your ears, but also with your eyes.

And, finally, Daley reminds us, that you must appeal to both the head and the heart of the other person.  Appealing to the head may result in missing the stronger commitment that comes from an emotional connection.

The next time your idea meets resistance, ask a few questions for clarification.