Do You Know the Value of a Question?

Have you ever noticed that compelling communication often starts with a question?  This is because questions can engage a reader or listener in ways that an assertion–no matter how correct–has no power to do.  Frank Luntz, political consultant and author of Words that Work, tells us why: 

“The reason for the effectivenss of questions in communication is quite obvious.  When you assert, whether in politics, business, or day-to-day life, the reaction of the listener depends to some degree on his or her opinion of the speaker.  But making the same statement in the form of a rhetorical question makes the reaction personal–and personalized communication is the best communication.”

The next time you want to attract a listner’s or reader’s attention, it’s worth your time to develp some good questions–not predictable and lame rhetorical questions, but ones that throw a strike toward your audience’s values or trigger real thought.  Sometimes a good question is worth a thousand facts.


3 Responses to Do You Know the Value of a Question?

  1. Rick says:

    Wow, this really makes one think of questions that can be asked. Do you have any examples?


  2. Carolyn says:

    I find that open ended questions (those that require an answer other than yes, no, or fine) are the best conversation starters. A common one is, “What made you decide to get into this field?” Other than telling me it’s none of my business or otherwise refusing to answer (which has never happened) it forces the person with whom I am talking to tell me a story with at least a few details. It is in those details that I often find our common ground.

  3. To add to Carolyn’s suggestion above, any questions that start with what, when, where, how, who. For example, “How long have you been in your field?” “Who were your mentors as you started in your field?” “How did you get started in…” What suggestions would you give me as I begin to network?”

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