Most know open-ended questions serve as a great way to get people talking. Others know it’s a great way to build relationships. Some even use them just to get good info. Yet, few know that they are a great tool for shaping people’s ideas.
Shaping People’s Ideas Through Mood Induction
Questions get people to think. What people think about affects their moods, feelings and emotions. In turn, these affect how they see things. It’s called mood induction.
For instance, try this. Next time one you know talks about doing something risky, ask some open-ended questions around its consequences:
- What will you do if . . . ?
- What precautions do you plan to take?
- What does [friend, family] think about all this?
See the reaction. Hesitation might crop up, pausing and slower speech too. These questions prompt cautious thoughts. They might not halt the activity. They will though raise the likelihood of more caution especially in preparation and approach.
Repeating And Reinforcing With Open-Ended Questions
Of course, one question won’t do it all. We need a team of questions mixed with other types of questions and prompts. In short, we need to fuel a conversation around the thought.
For example, people like to talk about things they did with people:
- How was last weekend?
- Who was there?
- Tell me more, please.
- Oh, so you did [activity] with [people] during the day?
- I see, so what about at night and Sunday?
Yes, a discussion like this would prompt good thoughts. That means a good mood. In turn that means more openness to ideas. That’s why humor is a very persuasive tool. It puts people in a good mood.
Resisting One Size Fits All
People aren’t light switches though. Shaping people’s ideas with open-ended questions like the above will affect some more than others. It’s not automatic. The effect also depends on the relationship we have.
Still, this does raise the odds of shaping people’s ideas. At minimum, people think. That helps them. Yet, it’s easy to just go through the motions, follow a formula. It might help to start this way. In the end though, shaping people’s ideas is very personalized.