I hope to meet you in person one day. If I do, here’s what’s going to happen.
I’m going to ask you thoughtful questions. I’m going to listen carefully to your responses and ask you to elaborate.
You’ll probably like me. You may even think I’m smart and insightful.
How can I make this prediction?
Because it’s based on peer-reviewed psychological studies.
One study you must read
I read hundreds of books and studies when I did the research for my Smartest Sales book. One study I want you to read was published after I published my book.
The study is: It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: Question-Asking Increases Liking, published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Here’s a summary of the findings:
- There’s a strong relationship between those who ask questions and likeability.
- The more questions you ask – particularly follow-up questions – the more likable you will be perceived to be.
Almost everyone wants to be liked, but few understand how to achieve a higher degree of “likeability.”
Most people (in my experience) don’t focus on making inquiries. They are consumed with trying to impress the other person with their own stories and experiences. As a consequence, conversations can feel like a battle for turf, with each person trying to impress the other.
Ironically, this behavior actually decreases likeability. The Harvard study observed: The tendency to focus on the self when trying to impress others is misguided, as verbal behaviors that focus on the self, such as redirecting the topic of conversation to oneself, bragging, boasting, or dominating the conversation, tend to decrease liking.
The finding about the positive impact of asking questions isn’t new. In 1991, a study of 550 return visits to 127 different physicians at 11 sites across the country reviewed tape recordings of the interaction between physicians and patients. The study found patients reported higher levels of satisfaction with their visits when physicians asked more questions about their experiences. Less satisfaction was found when the physician dominated the conversation.
Why you should care
Being likeable is important in sales and in life.
In my Smartest Sales book, I reference studies showing the positive relationship between likeability, trust and conversion rates. We make decisions emotionally. We then persuade ourselves we acted objectively.
The collateral benefits of asking questions will improve all your relationships, including those with family, friends and business colleagues.
Try it. It will change your life.
Resource of the week:
The Harvard study I referenced should be required reading for everyone. I highly recommend it.