One of the most important skills we should develop is the ability to ask the right questions.

It was difficult for me to evolve from that stage of adolescence when I thought asking questions made me look… slow.

That began to change long before studying body language: when I started to realize that some teachers were not only happy to assess my doubts; they also transmitted it with their whole body.

Then I began to associate asking questions to a very important factor:


(But not interest rates!)

It’s easy to pair the action of asking with showing interest in a topic. But for that tho happen, the question must meet a critical requirement:

It should summarize or combine concepts.

For example, with the sentences:

– “Christopher Columbus sailed a total of 71 days”

– “Scurvy occurred in sailors due to vitamin C deficiency, from four weeks on”

A question that arises is…

What did they eat during all that time to avoid suffering from scurvy?

It sounds simple, especially since it is a much easier to process when you see it as text.

Things get complicated when you’re in a conversation; they always recommend ‘asking questions for the exchange of ideas to flow’, but they don’t tell you that you have to be aware not only of words, but also gestures and tone of voice.

There you discover that knowing how to ask is a skill that involves the five senses.

I tell you that in criminal interrogations, we classify the questions into six types.

One of these types of questions is the “Not relevant”.

You can use them in case of an argument, or a tense conversation, to momentarily divert the other person’s attention to a totally out of place issue.

For example: imagine that you are an interrogation specialist, and you are interviewing a suspect. He’s visibly tense, and is reluctant to answer your questions about what he was doing last Tuesday night.

The technique involves asking a first question related to the case, waiting for the other person to begin answering … and * interrupting * with an out of place question.

Some types of ‘not relevant’ questions would be…

  • Excuse me, I think the air conditioner is not working. Don’t you feel like it’s hot in here?
  • Hey, wait. I think I’ll go for a cup of coffee. You drink coffee?
  • Sorry, on the street you just mentioned, isn’t there a hot dog stand?

In all cases, the ‘Not relevant’ question 1) interrupts and 2) diverts attention away from the suspect. It may seem absurd, but it actually serves several functions:

  • It helps the person relax, because it allows them to respond to something without getting emotionally involved,
  • Answering that question increases their unconscious willingness to cooperate, and
  • It allows you to observe changes in their body language.

Tip: for the strategy to work correctly, you shouldn’t say anything after asking.
For example:

“Hey, wait. You drink coffee? I think I’ll go for a cup of coffee. ”

…would be incorrect, because the final statement wipes all effectiveness from the technique.

The skill of asking the right questions is crucial for any Manager that wants to become a Mentor; that’s how you get to really know your employees.

Start by downloading my free Body Language tips ebook here:

Much success!

Jesús Enrique Rosas

I can read your body language and write a story about it.

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