Are You Hiding Behind Questions?

Some of us ask other people questions, not only as a means of drawing them out but as a way of hiding our own attitudes, feelings, and behavior. We may have a battery of continuous questions that allows us to avoid self-revelation because the other person is kept busy providing information. Many people feel appreciated when we ask a lot of questions and may not realize until later that we never exposed anything about our own life, feelings, or opinions.”

Sharon Ellison, author of Taking the War Out of Words, available at .

Sharon is one of my favorite experts on interpersonal communication. When I read the above quote from her book on Powerful, Non-defensive Communication, it struck a chord. While Sharon focuses on the personal realm, I think the principle remains the same in your business communication.

When I review the words that people use in their marketing presentation, I often see flyers and websites that contain a long list of questions for the reader, but very little information about what the business owner stands for. (“Are you living the life of your dreams? What would you go for if you had the right support? Is something missing from your life? Are you ready to go for what you really want? What’s stopping you from going for what you really want?)

The result is a marketing piece that often has little pull or persuasion.

I don’t know about you, but when I read a marketing piece with so many questions, I feel tired! If the questions require deep thought and self-reflection, then I simply may not take the time to come up with an answer since no one is actually listening to me anyway. In intimate, one-on-one conversations, these kinds of questions can create intimacy, but on paper, they simply don’t translate.

If I am bombarded on a web page by questions for me, with nothing much about the person writing the page or what they believe, I disconnect. If I don’t find any valuable, juicy or interesting insights or information, I move on.

I think as business owners, we fall into this trap of the endless questions either because we aren’t clear what we stand for, or more likely, because it feels so risky to put who we are and we think out there so clearly. The fear is that we’ll turn someone off or turn them against us if we have a perspective they don’t agree with. And yet, most of our power to be interesting, engaging, and compelling comes from our willingness to reveal our passionate beliefs and the lessons our life has taught us.

©2003-11. Isabel Parlett. All rights reserved.