Who has control in a conversation, the guy listening or the guy talking? The listener, of course. That’s because the talker is revealing information while the listener, if he’s trained well, is directing the conversation toward his own goals. He’s harnessing the talker’s energy for his own ends. […] The art of putting listener’s judo into practice involves remembering four things:
- Don’t try to force your opponent to admit that you are right. Aggressive confrontation is the enemy of constructive negotiation.
- Avoid questions that can be answered with “yes” or with tiny pieces of information. These require little thought and inspire the human need for reciprocity; you will be expected to give something back.
- Ask calibrated questions that start with the words “How” or “What.” By implicitly asking the other party for help, these questions will give your counterpart an illusion of control and will inspire them to speak at length, revealing important information.
- Don’t ask questions that start with “Why” unless you want your counterpart to defend a goal that serves you. “Why” is always an accusation, in any language.