Greg Williams

By Greg Williams

“How To Ask Powerful Questions To The Right People” – Negotiation Insight

“How To Ask Powerful Questions To The Right People” – Negotiation Insight 150 150 Greg Williams, MN, CSP

“To get better answers, ask the right people better questions.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“How To Ask Powerful Questions To The Right People”

She looked at him and became emotionally aroused with each passing moment. Finally, she said, “who are the right people that can answer my questions?” The customer service rep that she was speaking to sheepishly said, “mam, I’m not sure – I just started working here last week.”

How many times have you found yourself exasperated over an unresolved situation? Did you take a moment to examine why you were upset? Such situations usually stem from four possibilities:

  1. You have the wrong demeanor
  2. You’re not speaking to the right person
  3. You ask the wrong question
  4. You’re not asking powerful questions

The following will assist you in addressing all four of those factors.


Your Demeanor:

No matter with whom you’re speaking, your demeanor will determine how they interact and respond to you. Thus, your demeanor needs to match the situation. If you display one that’s weak, in the face of a strong personality type, she may dismiss you as not being relevant. If you position yourself through your demeanor as someone that’s significantly above the other individual, he may become uncooperative.

To adopt the best demeanor, before making your approach observe the other person’s mannerisms – assess their feelings and the kind of day they may be having. Based on your assessment, if it’s appropriate, look for ways to compliment them. If they’re in ‘rush mode’, be pleasant and get to the point with your questions.

The overarching point is, position yourself right before posing your questions and you will have won half the battle.


Speaking To The Wrong Person/People:

It’s ludicrous to think you can get the right solution by talking to the wrong person. So, before seeking assistance, inquire about the person’s ability to grant your request. If he states that he can’t offer a solution, ask who can.

The point is, don’t waste time presenting questions to someone that can’t provide a solution. Doing so will only further exasperate you. It will also cause you to be less tolerant with the person that can provide a solution to your situation.


Asking The Wrong Question:

Depending on the circumstances, it may be correct to ask someone if they can assist you or who’s in charge – posing such questions will begin the engaging process. But if you know with whom you should speak to obtain a resolution to your concerns, don’t dilly dally – get to the point.

Asking if someone has the responsibility or authority to assist you indicates that you’re not familiar with the environment. Use more powerful questions such as those that follow to improve your position.


Asking Powerful Questions:

The very first question you ask sets the tone for the discussion to follow. And it should be a question that’s posed to the right person – the person that can grant your request. Thus, the question must be dynamic – one that places you in a position of authority and control. And, as an aside, authority doesn’t have to mean that the other person must sing your praises – it means that he cares enough to assist you. To solicit his support, ask such questions as:

  1. How quickly might you resolve this situation (the assumption being he has the authority and he’s going to resolve your problem)?
  2. How much of a rebate/discount might I receive to rectify this situation (this question suggests that you’re seeking restitution)?
  3. When I speak with a ‘higher authority’, how would you like me to represent our interaction (this question can border on intimidation – be cautious about its use – never attempt to intentionally bully or demean someone – that can cause an unforeseen and unimagined backlash)?


There’s power in the way you ask questions and to whom you pose them. Thus, if you ask the right questions in the right manner at the right time, you’ll experience the right outcome more frequently … and everything will be right with the world.


What does this have to do with negotiations?


Questions are the backbone of negotiations. Therefore, by asking the right question in the right situation, you enhance your chances of getting the answers that lead to a better negotiation outcome. Never overlook the power of posing the right questions to the right people. Asking the right questions can be your silent ally.


Remember, you’re always negotiating!


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