When The Black Swan Group™ first started, we taught clients to use Calibrated Questions™ to gather information. Through trial and error, we figured out that questions make one-third of the population uncomfortable, so we no longer use them the same way.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Calibrated Questions begin with what, how, and sometimes why and are designed to hit the brain differently, force people to think, and ultimately have them reveal more information than you would get from a simple yes or no.
Generally, questions that start with what shape people’s thoughts, whereas questions that start with how are focused on implementation or eliciting forced empathy. Why questions should only be asked to demonstrate Proof of Life™: There are so many other real estate agents out there—why are you choosing to work with me?
Keep reading to learn more about Calibrated Questions and how you can use them to win more deals:
Calibrated Questions™️: What Questions
At their core, what questions are like the Socratic method. You use them to lead people where you want them to go. When you ask these questions, you get your counterpart to give you the answers you want, but they believe they are coming up with them on their own.
This is the perfect way to give the other side the illusion of control and make them feel like they have the upper hand. But in reality, even though they’re doing most of the talking, they arrive at your conclusion and feel as though they came up with it themselves. It’s like magic.
What questions force the other side to think about the issue and focus on problem-solving. This gives them a certain amount of freedom—they can answer however they want—but you’re framing the scope of the conversation.
For many people, what questions aren’t easy to use. The thought of leading someone through a conversation scares them to death. But as long as you know your business and industry, you can use what questions with ease—especially when you’ve already practiced them.
You can also use what questions for time travel. If someone fails to do something they said they would, you can say: When you said you would take care of the issue, what should I have expected? Suddenly, they travel back to the point in time they made the agreement.
Other examples of these Calibrated Questions include:
- What is the core issue here?
- What is the biggest challenge you face?
- What happens if we fail?
- What position are you in if this doesn’t change?
- What happens if you do nothing?
Calibrated Questions: How Questions
For the most part, how questions are for implementation. When you get to the end of a deal, even if there’s an agreement, there’s no such thing as a yes without a how: How will this deal get implemented?
How questions are forward-thinking. If they don’t call me back, how do we proceed? How should we follow up with you if we have any issues? In response, the other side might say: Shoot me an email or text; I never pick up my phone.
How questions force the counterpart to be empathetic and understand your perspective. When you give them empathy up front, they will reciprocate; it’s almost an obligation. As a result, the final details of the deal will be ironed out, and you’ll be ready to move on to the next one.
Examples of these Calibrated Questions include:
- How is that worthwhile?
- How have you handled these issues in the past?
- How will this look in a year if things don’t change?
- How long are you willing to wait?
- How does that affect things?
Calibrated Questions: Why Questions
As mentioned above, why questions should only be used to demonstrate Proof of Life. If you ask your counterpart some variation of Why me? their answer will be revealing. If they sing your praises and state your value proposition for you, you’re the favorite. If they are unable to answer the question or describe a scenario that doesn’t include you, you’re likely the fool.
To learn more about Calibrated Questions—and other Black Swan skills—check out the Negotiation 9®.