This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for… Tip 3 (out of 3) for dealing with the “talker”. Clearly it’s never ok to tell a prospect or a customer to “shut up”, so what can you do to keep control of the conversation and manage your time effectively WITHOUT damaging rapport?
A quick recap:
So what is technique number 3 all about?
Technique 3: Recognise the effect of Open Vs. Closed Questions… and use them correctly!
I’m still constantly surprised on training courses that people struggle to understand the difference between open and closed questions. Here is where the confusion usually lies…
If I asked you, “Have you ever been to Venezuela?” Most people could recognise that this was a closed question. In fact, most people realise that a question that only requires a yes or no answer is indeed a closed question.
However, when I ask people whether the following question is open or closed, there is usually some disagreement…
“Where did you last go on holiday?”
Often people have been told that open questions are simply ones that begin with things like Who? What? Where? When? Why? The truth is that, as a functional definition, this way of thinking doesn’t work.
The simplest way to understand the difference between open vs closed questions is by asking yourself this:
What is the breadth of possible responses I can elicit from this question?
If there is only one type of response that you could give to the question asked, then it was closed question.
Therefore, “where did you last go on holiday?” is in fact, a closed question. Yes, you don’t know what destination they will say, but the question itself asks simply for the straightforward response of a destination. In other words, there is only a very limited way that the question can be answered.
Whereas, “How did you decide what holiday to take?” is a question that has a wider breadth of possible responses. For example, will they tell you about having had a recommendation from a friend? Will they tell you about the holiday brochure studying that went on? Or perhaps they will tell you about how stressed they are at work or that due to health issues they needed somewhere by the sea. The possibilities are much wider!
Now the reason it’s important to really grasp the differences between open vs closed questions is that you can begin to better use this distinction to control a conversation.
Whilst building rapport with someone ask open questions and allow them a chance to give you a real insight into their world. However, if you begin to notice that they are a “talker” (and time is limited) flip to using closed questions as it will dramatically help you control the conversation without having to resort to telling people to shut up!