STOP Asking Stupid Questions
People are always judging. You started judging this content since the moment you saw the picture and read the headline.
We are always judging, whether we like it or not. Our brain is constantly doing it as a survival mechanism. In 4 seconds we make our mind if we are going to trust someone or not. In those same 4 seconds, we decide if a person can help us or not.
Humans are always trying to put labels on other humans. Let’s face it, it is efficient. It helps us avoid decision fatigue, and allows us to use our time and focus efficiently and effectively.
Yet, we shouldn’t always rely on our fast thinking. Sometimes we need to use our slow thinking. We should always take some time to get to know the people we meet. At least for a bit more than just 4 seconds.
Everyone we meet is valuable and interesting. Sometimes it will be easier to identify what is valuable or interesting about someone, and other times we will have to put some work to it. The best way to do it is by asking questions and listening.
When I say listening I mean actually paying attention to what they are saying, not just hearing the sounds that come out of their mouth.
Listening is about absorbing and accepting, it is not about waiting your turn to say something or come up with a clever answer. Great questions will make the listening process simple.
What questions should we be asking then?
How to Read People?
Please never ask about other’s people age!
Never, ever ask “How old are you?”
It is such a bad question! Let’s examine why it is so bad.
There is a book called Reading People: How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior – Anytime, Anyplace. The author, Jo-Elian Dimitrius, used to evaluate witnesses, lawyers, and judges, in high-profile cases such as O.J. Simpson’s case.
She made a living by asking great questions that would lead to being able to understand and predict the behavior of other people.
I know what you are thinking. We are talking about building skills to “judge”. But there are positive and negative ways to judge.
If what you are trying to do, with your questions, is to get enough information to put a label on someone. If you are trying to decide if they are smart or not, if you are trying to decide if they are worth your time or not, then you are doing negative judging.
On the other hand, if with you questions you are simply trying to understand the person you have in front of you. If you are trying to find things that you have in common or ways in which you can relate, then that is positive judging. Basically, you are being curious about the other person.
Now that we made that distinction between positive and negative judging we can keep going.
By know it should be clear that the quality of our questions will determine the quality of the conversations we will have and quality of the relationships we will build.
What are the best questions we can ask to understand and predict behavior?
Never ask “How old are you?”
The first thing you accomplish with a question like “How old are you?” is telling the other person that you are trying to gauge them. Do you think this is a good way to start things off?
Sure, we are all judging. Our brain decides if we are going to trust and respect someone in just 4 seconds. Yet, there is no need to explicitly tell someone else that we are judging them. There are better and subtler ways to do it.
The other thing is that the answer to the question “How old are you?” may not give you good information.
Think about it this way: If you only had a handful of questions that you could ask someone, so that you could understand and predict their behavior, would it be valuable to ask about their age?
One of my best friends is more than 50 years old, yet we relate in so many levels. The best part of it is that when we get together we both become a pair of teenagers, competing in mini-golf, bowling, lifting, and basically everything we do.
We also have conversations about business skills, and we share valuable tools, resources, and books. Our behavior has a big range.
Asking about our age would not give you any valuable information to understand us or to predict our behavior.
Ask yourself. Would people get to understand you if they know how old you are?
Most probably, it will give some information but not enough. And, there is still the issue of showing that you are judging when you ask that questions.
Please, do yourself a favor and never again as anyone “How old are you?”.
What should we ask?
Knowing what NOT to do is a great first step. Now what?
As Tony Robbins says, the quality of your life will be determined by the quality of your questions. This means that you should be working, every day, on this skill.
It is a tactic that will help you go from small-talk to big-talk. You will be able to spark meaningful conversations and get as much information about the other person as you want. The key is that you have to be curious about them.
The Vertical Questions method is just one of the tools we cover during the Networking Boot Camp that we conduct.
Learning and sharing knowledge are my passions, let’s connect if those are yours too.