Putting Your Questions Into Context

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• Analyze the answers to these questions cautiously, and remember to place everything in context. Note how they answer, not just the content, and also not what isn’t said. Use extrapolation to draw conclusions about what their answers say about them in a more general sense.

• Questions needs to be iterative and responsive to the context and the answers you’ve already received. Also think about behavior online and in emails, or “read” a person’s possessions or home the way you would their body language. Use these observations to guide your questions.

• Elicitation leads you to the information you’re looking for, without it seeming that you are.

• Developed originally by the FBI, these techniques are really just ways to carefully work around conversational and societal norms to your advantage. They are effective because they work with human being’s natural social and behavioral tendencies.

• For example, one tendency is towards recognition, or social connection. Use compliments or accurate observations to foster a rapport with someone or strengthen your connection.

• You can also elicit information by encouraging people to complain, and in doing so, reveal something previously hidden, or else tap into the human need to correct someone’s error. Sued skillfully, most people cannot resist joining in on a complaining session or correcting an “error” you make.

• Playing dumb or using naivete or ignorance will also encourage some people to try to educate you, and share vital information, especially since you will seem so non-threatening.

• Finally, one technique is to say something quite dramatic to “shift the window” and then act as though nothing has happened; subtly, you may well elicit a revealing response. Silence can also be used effectively, since it encourages people to fill the gap with the information you want to know.

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Check out the podcast for shownotes and/or the full transcript.