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ASK QUESTIONS THAT HELP INCREASE THE CONVERSATIONAL FLOW!

A guide by Steve Nakamoto - Writer's Digest Award-Winning Author (Southern California)

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ASK QUESTIONS THAT HELP INCREASE THE CONVERSATIONAL FLOW!

Sometimes people will get stuck in their conversations and have little or nothing to say. The following suggestions are designed to help other people find their conversational flow so that they can have a more enjoyable experience of sharing with you:

• Ask with positive intent.

Make sure that you are agreeable and positive in your intentions. If you do this, then you’ll be sending out the right kind of supportive energy that the speaker will naturally pick up on. You don’t want to make the other person feel defensive by making them wrong about what they are talking about. Get a sense of what direction they’d like to go and choose instead to go along with them on their verbal ride. For example, if the other person describes an experience of theirs as being “challenging”, ask a question and gets them to say “yes” like, “So it was no joke then. This thing that happened to you was more than challenging, right?”

• Ask them to elaborate.

If a person should come to a quick halt in their discussion with you, it could be because they are afraid of boring you with a subject that may be of no interest. You can take that fear away by allowing them more freedom by simply asking for more content or information. Therefore, an appropriate question to ask in order to get them to elaborate more with you would be, “That sounds interesting. Could you tell me more about that?” Or you might want to widen the scope of their topic by asking, “How else is that true?”

• Ask them for more clarity.

Sometimes, people will speak in broad, general terms. I’ve been guilty occasionally of making a statement like, “Women love to talk, while men hate to listen.” Since I might be afraid of a person’s reaction to that statement, I might leave those words hanging without further explanation. But you as a listener could keep on that theme by simply asking, “How do you mean?” That question gives me permission to talk more about the subject I brought up and puts me more at ease.

• Ask cleverly for sensitive information.

There will be many times when you’ll be asking a question in the hopes of expanding a conversation that may get you into sensitive areas. These are areas that many people don’t want to talk about unless they feel safe with you. To avoid an instant negative reaction you can begin by saying, “I’m just curious. What is it that you hate so much?” What often happens is that a person will counter with, “Why do you ask?” or “What made you ask such a question?” And the reply that handles this objection is for you to say, “Oh, don’t mind me. I was just curious.” The key here is to be aware of sensitive areas that might cause a person to be defensive. Then it’s a matter of having an acceptable reply if you happen to stir up unwanted initial responses from other people that you ask.

• Handle the “I don’t know” answer.

Here’s a little verbal trick that I learned from seminars that I took in the field of neuro-linguistic programming. Whenever you meet resistance to a question that you pose in the form of a “I don’t know” response, quickly reply by saying, “Well, what would you say if you did know?” or “Just suppose that you did know.” The secret here is to do this in a very “matter-of-fact” way so that it works seamlessly into your style. Try it on your friends. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised by the results which are to keep a conversation flowing and opening up a lot of new directions and choices for topics.

• Ask them questions to keep them resourceful.

Sometimes, you’ll need to support the person you’re listening to with occasional creative questions like: So that was a lot of fun for you? I guess that made you proud? How could you not be excited by that? Or you must have really loved that one? The idea here is to access a person’s resourceful emotional states by asking questions that make them focus on being that way. Notice that the key words to use include positive emotional ones like: fun, excited, proud, and love.

• Ask them questions to break bad moods.

In a similar fashion to the suggestion in the previous paragraph, the right question will elicit a certain emotion. Instead of supporting the person who you’re listening to, there might be a time when it is necessary to break their bad mood and change their focus. An example of this would be to say, “That’s not the real you, is it?” when that person is feeling discouraged, frustrated, or disappointed. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Are we having fun yet?” This is often said with the purpose of changing people’s focus when things aren’t fun.

By experimenting with each of these suggestions, you can greatly improve your ability to interact effectively. You do this by keeping the conversation flowing in the direction that you both want to go. And that is for an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

THE BOTTOM LINE

When you ask like a winner, other people will begin to appreciate your sincere involvement in a conversation. You will be communicating to them that you care about whom they are and what they say. And most of all, by helping them get into the flow of a conversation and letting them express themselves fully, you’ll be making them feel important.

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Steve Nakamoto is a two-time Writer’s Digest Award-Winning author, former Dale Carnegie Instructor, and personal development trainer for motivational expert Tony Robbins. Steve has served for nearly six years as the iVillage.com Mr. Answer Man relationship expert.

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Here are new business books to help put your communication skills to the test:

Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience
Confessions of a Public Speaker
The Curse of the Mogul: What's Wrong with the World's Leading Media Companies
Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst "Best" Practices of Business Today
Social Media Marketing For Dummies
Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience, and Brand Value
Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures
The Tyranny of E-mail: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox
Employee Training & Development
----------------------------
Talk Less, Say More: Three Habits to Influence Others and Make Things Happen
Making Learning Stick: 20 Easy and Effective Techniques for Training Transfer
Lincoln On Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times
The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games: How the Most Valuable Content Will be Created in the Age Beyond Gutenberg to Google
The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures
Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone
201 Knockout Answers to Tough Interview Questions: The Ultimate Guide to Handling the New Competency-Based Interview Style
Communicating at Work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Professions
The New How: Creating Business Solutions Through Collaborative Strategy
Business and Administrative Communication
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Obstacles Welcome: How to Turn Adversity into Advantage in Business and in Life
Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion
Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable--Includes new bonus chapter
How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life
Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility
Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition
The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life
Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long
Everything Counts: 52 Remarkable Ways to Inspire Excellence and Drive Results
A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring
-------------------------------
Three Feet from Gold: Turn Your Obstacles into Opportunities! (Think and Grow Rich)
Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your Employees to Give It Their All, and They'll Give You Even More
Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don't
Leading at a Higher Level, Revised and Expanded Edition (Intro & Chapter 1): Is Your Organization High Performing?
The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time
Leading at a Higher Level, Revised and Expanded Edition: Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations
The Six Sigma Handbook, Third Edition
Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World
The Business Devotional: 365 Inspirational Thoughts on Management, Leadership & Motivation
Social Media Marketing: How Data Analytics helps to monetize the User Base in Telecoms, Social Networks, Media and Advertising in a Converged Ecosystem
-------------------------------
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
Envisioning Information
You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation
Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking
The Medium is the Massage
People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts
Messages: The Communication Skills Book


I hope this has been helpful and I welcome your comments.


Best wishes,



Steve Nakamoto

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Steve Nakamoto - Writer's Digest Award-Winning Author (Southern California)
Qualifications: Author of the award-winning - TALK LIKE A WINNER!
Last updated: 10/29/12
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