How to Take Control of Virtually Any Conversation
By Rene A. Bastarache, CI
Have you ever been in a negotiation or sale situation where you began to lose control of the conversation? This can be devastating especially if large amounts of money or even worse, your job were on the line. Luckily there is a very simple solution that you can use at any time, with anyone and in any conversation that can help you to regain control and keep it.
Are you intrigued? This technique is so simple in fact that I just used it on your already. It is the art of asking questions. Whenever you ask a question you are in control of the conversation because as a result of the question someone is taking the time to think of the proper response so they can answer.
In addition to keeping you in control questions also help you to steer the conversation in the direction you desire. There are questions that can be asked to help you uncover valuable information to assist you in future negotiations. There are qualifying questions to see if someone is ready to purchase a product and there are yet other types of questions used to close a sale.
It Here’s an example of each.
Close Ended Questions: these are questions that invite someone to use a short answer such as yes or no. “Do you watch soccer on television?”
The Open-Ended Question: is one that would lead the client to give you more information and can help you understand their needs in detail. “Can you tell me more about what features of public speaking are most important to you?” Or even something like “What did you do at school today?”
A Qualifying Question: is a question that helped to solidify a client’s buying decision if you meet their needs. “If I were able to get this car in red with the automatic transmission which you said you really want would you be willing to buy it today?”
A Closing Question: is one that goes for the sale such as “So would you like the red one or the blue one today?” Or “Would you prefer the Platinum Plan or would the Gold Plan be enough to meet your needs today?
So what’s the advantage of knowing all this information? I’m glad you asked that. When you’re interviewing someone in your office and they begin asking you questions such as;
“How much is this going to cost?”
“Is this going to take very long?”
“How long have you been doing hypnosis?”
You find yourself immediately on the defensive, answering their questions to keep them happy and losing control of the conversation. By being able to keep control of the conversation you’ll still answer all their questions throughout your presentation but in a properly formatted manner that will be positive and agreeable.
So how do you regain control of the conversation once you’ve lost it? Realizing that whoever is asking the question is in control, all you need to do when you’re asked a question is to answer it with another question. For example if the client says something like, “How much is this going to cost? You can answer with something quick like “Is cost a major issue for you?” or “Why is cost such an issue?” Either one of these questions would put the control back in your hands so they can answer.
Years ago I took a sales training course in Florida where we practiced a technique called The Porcupine Technique. You would imagine that the person answering the questions were holding a porcupine in their hands. In order to get rid of the porcupine you have to ask the question to the person facing you then they would be holding the porcupine. It was a training technique that would teach people to respond to questions with questions as quickly as possible so as to not be the one holding the porcupine.
In addition to being a fun exercise it helps you to be quick on your feet in asking questions and keeping in control. I strongly advise that you practice this with a friend, family in all conversations in your office as well as in your personal life.