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  • Writer's pictureDavid de Souza

'Ask Powerful Questions' Summary

Updated: Jan 8, 2022


Mental Models from the book:

'Ask Powerful Questions' can be summarised into 9 mental models:

1. Availability Heuristic

  • You can use questions to prime and persuade someone. The more you think about something the more likely you are to engage in that behavior. For example: Asking someone if they are going to vote will increase the likelihood that they will buy 25%

2. Curiosity Instinct

  • Everyone has a unique life story and experience. We all have something of value to share. Your goal is to find out what that thing is.

  • To build rapport, ask questions about something you are curious about. For example: "I'm curious about your hat. How does the world respond to you, when you wear that hat?"

  • When you forgo judging and use curiosity within your questions, people feel like you are saying "I hear you".

3. Co-operation

  • Use "we" to empower and exhilarate people around you.

  • When using reflective listening, end by saying: "Did I get that right?"

  • To be empathetic describe how a person sees the world: "It sounds like you believe...."

4. Ego

  • When we sympathetically listen, we think we are listening, but we are really listening to how we feel. We are hearing our own story while they tell theirs.

5. Emotions

  • When there is tension in a conversation, leave the content (what is being talked about) and pivot to a place of process (how it is being talked about). For example: "Wait a moment. Let's leave this topic for a moment and talk about what got us so worked up".

5.1 Emotions: Fear

  • The 2 most common fears for connecting with people are:

    1. Fear of being rejected

    2. Fear of looking stupid

6. Inversion

  • To become more open be aware of what triggers you to become closed.

  • "But" has the effect of negating anything that was said before it. Use "and" instead of but".

7. Liking

  • People want to be heard and understood and it provides deep value to them when they are.

  • Compliments are a form of judging and can therefore be problematic. Don't say: "I like your tattoo say "You must get comments about your tattoo all the time."

8. Reciprocity

  • Managing over talkers by:

    1. Stopping them: "Can I pause you there".

    2. Complimenting them genuinely: Thank you for sharing"

    3. Reflecting on what you heard: "I heard you say..."

    4. Inviting others to respond: "Let's see how others respond to what you just said".

9. Resistance

  • If you ask: "How was your weekend?" it takes people to the past, somewhere they are not. This creates unconscious resistance.

  • Open-ended questions usually start with: How/What/Why. Be careful with 'Why' questions, they can often produce defensiveness and scripted responses.


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