A Question is Like a Flashlight

A former coworker and good friend Nancy Edwards
shared an article from Southwest’s Spirit
titled “Chasing Beautiful Questions.” In the article I came across
a quote from Steve Quatrano of the Right Question Institute:
“A question is like a flashlight that we
shine into the darkness, allowing us to move forward into the unknown and
I loved the analogy of a question being like a
flashlight because it’s so memorable! I also like it because asking good
questions is a big part of being an effective persuader.
When it comes to the principle of liking
it’s easier for us to say yes to those we know and like – questions are key to
finding out what you have in common with another person. What we have in common
with someone (similarities) is a proven way to engage the liking principle.
Think about people you know who are from your
hometown, have the same pet you do, enjoy the same hobbies or root for the same
sports team. Studies show it’s easier for them to like you AND it’s easier for
you to like them. The end result is it makes it easier for them to say “Yes” to
You can learn these things a number of ways –
ask people who know the person you want to persuade, Google them, check out
Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Or, when you’re with the other person you can shine
the light of good questions to try and find out what you have in common so you
can use those things to connect.
Good questions also come in handy when you
want to engage the principle of consistency. This principle of influence
explains the reality that people want to be consistent in what they say, do,
believe, etc. Typically people don’t resist their own values, attitudes and
beliefs. If you know those things and can align your request to show the other
person how what you’re asking lines up with those beliefs, values, attitudes,
or past behaviors, it will be easier for them to say yes to whatever you’re
In much the same way that you discover
similarities you can discover these things to engage consistency. Talk to
people who know the person you’re tying to persuade, do an online search, and
look at Facebook or LinkedIn.
One last place questions come in handy is
during the sales process, with scarcity. This principle highlights the truth
that people respond more to what they might lose than what they might gain.
Telling someone what he or she might lose by not going with your suggestion is
effective persuasion but there’s a better way. Asking questions that highlight
potential loss is a much more effective persuasion strategy. For example, in my
industry, insurance, an insurance agent might ask the following of a
prospective customer if they discover some deficiency in their insurance

Agent – If you were to have a catastrophic
loss, would you expect the insurance company to completely replace your

Prospective Client – Of course I would. That’s
why I carry insurance.

Agent – I thought that would be the case but
the reality is you don’t carry enough insurance to fully replace your building.
You’d have to pay more than $200,000 out of pocket. Did you know that?

Prospective Client – No, I thought I was fully

By asking the right questions the agent is
shining the light on a dark place, a place the customer had not considered.
When the customer voices what he wants that solidifies his desire even more.
And this approach drives home the potential loss much more than the agent
telling him what he might lose.
So whether you want to connect with someone
using liking, engage them with consistency or highlight possible loss, good
questions are the way to go. They will shine a light to allow you to see things
previously hidden and increase your chance for persuasion success.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Cialdini “Influence”
 Would you like to learn more about
influence from the experts? Check out the Cialdini “Influence” Series featuring Cialdini
Method Certified Trainers from around the world.


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