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Yield Admissions Through Questions

 

Techniques General persuasion > The Art of Being Right > Yield Admissions Through Questions

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Should the disputation be conducted on somewhat strict and formal lines, and there be a desire to arrive at a very clear understanding, he who states the proposition and wants to prove it may proceed against his opponent by question, in order to show the truth of the statement from his admissions. The erotematic, or Socratic, method was especially in use among the ancients; and this and some of the tricks following later on are akin to it.

The plan is to ask a great many wide-reaching questions at once, so as to hide what you want to get admitted, and, on the other hand, quickly propound the argument resulting from the admissions; for those who are slow of understanding cannot follow accurately, and do not notice any mistakes or gaps there may be in the demonstration.

Example

What use do your people make of specialist computer systems?...
Why do you use that particular system?...
How is the computer budget managed?...
What do you know of the new system?...
How will you people cope when the old system is tuned off?...
Are your people qualified to do that?...
...

Discussion

Questioning is not only a powerful method of acquiring information (which is always useful), it can also be helpful in persuading, in the way that it makes people think about what is being asked.

Socratic questioning is a powerful method of teaching by asking questions, getting the other person to think about what is being asked.

Questions also are a subtle way of maintaining control. Whilst you are asking and they are answering, you are in charge and can direct the flow of interaction. We are programmed to answer question asked of us -- to not answer is considered impolite -- so when we are asked, we reply as best we can.

When asked questions, people focus on the current answer and so may forget previous questions and answers, allowing you to hide key questions in the haystack of further queries.

'Yield Admissions Through Questions' is the seventh of Schopenhauer's stratagems.

See also

Questioning techniques, Socratic questioning

 

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