the question you ask often impacts the answer you get

1. “What problems does it have?”
2. “It doesn’t have any problems, does it?”
3. “What can you tell me about it?”

The above three questions have the same intent: to learn about a product. Yet they are framed in very different ways and thus elicited very different responses per an article published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. The first question presupposes a problem, the second assumes somewhat the opposite and the third is very open ended, almost vague in lack of specificity.

In a study, participants were asked to “sell a used electronic device with a serious malfunction.” When fictitious buyers inquired, 89% of sellers mentioned the malfunction in response to the first question, only 61% mentioned the problem when ask the second question and a mere 8% bothered to mention it in response to the third question. Researchers (Eric VanEpps, University of Utah, Ass’t Professor of Marketing) stated they found similar results in other situations including job interviews.

The take-home? If you have concerns, ask DIRECTLY “even to the point of asserting the problem exists.” Presumably, many more people are uncomfortable uttering clear-cut, affirmative lies than with dodging the truth.

Closing Quotes:

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, 1944-1900

“When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.” – Yevgeny Yevtushenko, 1933-2017, Russian poet

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” – James E. Faust, 1920-2007

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier