How often do you wish you could get an honest response? Whether it be from your child about their homework or from a used car dealer about the state of that car. Well here’s a few tips.
First, don’t ask a question that you already know the answer to. If your 3-year old is standing in the kitchen by an empty cookie container with chocolate on their face, don’t ask if they ate the cookies. Lying is a normal, defensive response to avoid trouble or negative consequences. We all hope to not get caught when we mess up. So rather, say “I see you ______ (whatever action you want to address. Tell me what happened.”
Second, ask open ended questions. Asking “What homework do you have tonight?” will most likely evoke a different response than if you ask “Do you have homework tonight?” It’s easier to respond with the one word “no,” especially when we’re trying to avoid something.
Third, ask specific questions. How often do you find you get the response of “good” or “fine” when you ask “How was your day?” or “How are you?” These are programmed responses. So instead, if you know your teen had a math test today, say “Tell me about that math test.” Or if you have a friend looking for a job, ask “What’s going on with the job search?” These questions often garner more information.
Fourth, ask negative-assumption questions. Thinking of buying that used IPad from Craigslist? Asking “What problems have you encountered with this IPad?” will elicit a more truthful response than “This IPad doesn’t have any problems, right?”
Finally, trust your instinct. How many times have you just knew that someone was not telling you the whole story or was leaving something out? Circle back and continue to ask specific questions and you may just find you get a clearer picture of whatever you are seeking.
Of course, there are no guarantees that you will get an honest response but these tips should help you feel more assured in the responses that you do get.