Ask Me No Questions, I Will Tell You No Lies

Ask Me No Questions, I Will Tell You No Lies

Lately I've been developing and collaborating on more quantitative research, so I am appreciating this resource for my team's use. Some other thoughts about inquiry and engagement:

The authors of the article, The Surprising Power of Questions were interviewed on HBR IdeaCast. There were several useful nuggets, but these were especially applicable:

  1. Encourage the truth by phrasing your question so that it is easy for people to respond in the affirmative. This is useful if you're anticipating the person might lie. For example, if you think a supplier is going to miss a delivery date, you'd ask, "So, it looks like you're going to miss the deadline?" versus "You're going to be on time, right?"

  2. Your line of questioning depends upon your objective. If your goal is to establish a relationship, then a gradually-deepening discussion format makes sense. However, if you're looking to elicit information, opening with an evocative inquiry can prove more efficient.

  3. Consider and prepare for the questions you hope no one asks. And, since we can't always be prepared for every eventuality, consider using deflecting questions, humor, or admitting you don't know, which creates a potentially valuable follow-up opportunity.

One of my closest friends, a leader in experiential learning, shared this resource with me. She uses it with students in her classroom. I have found it to be a valuable marketing research resource, especially at the beginning of a project. It can be extremely difficult to craft a research questionnaire, but this step-by-step process (draft, categorize, evaluate, prioritize, consider usage, and reflect) is a fantastic way to start.

If you’ve found some especially useful techniques for ethically eliciting information, please share with me at mary@connect4insight.com.

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