Michael Stuart Kelly Posted October 28, 2009 Share Posted October 28, 2009 A Secret About Questions I have a secret I recently learned about questions and I want to share it here. I put this in "Tips for Everyday Living" because this secret can impact your everyday life, just as it did mine. Here's the secret. And it is a secret although many people already know it. I know I should do a Hollywood build-up, but this one hit me too hard to want to fancy it up. So here goes: The human brain automatically responds to questions. I don't know the physiological or biological reasons for this. I didn't learn this secret studying a science paper. But I have found it to be true. I gradually became aware of it studying persuasion techniques from a variety of places. It finally became very clear to me while listening to a Tony Robbins tape on sales motivation. How do persuaders use this secret? Easy. A question automatically focuses the attention of a target on a topic the questioner chooses. (Do you like how I am now asking you questions? Heh.) The brain can't stop itself from automatically focusing when a question is asked. It is true that a person can tune out an entire message, but his brain can't be passive to a question that is in a message he is paying attention to—even if the response is something like, "I refuse to contemplate that." So a trained persuader will ask a question to focus a target's mind on something he wants the target to think about and/or do. There's a lot of sneaky stuff I have read regarding how they use this, too. But those techniques are beyond the scope of what I want to say here. My main purpose is actually a question: How can we use this secret to improve our lives? And, to me, this is the good part. The trick is to ask good questions. If someone asks you a bunch of poor questions, irritation soon sets in. Your brain automatically gives one poor response after another. You can't do that all day and not be affected. A good example is the way parents ultimately get cross with a child who constantly asks, "Why?" to everything. Their brains can't help but try to produce the answers, but they know there are no answers to many of the questions. Also, the child is often horsing around trying to get a reaction instead of asking for actual information. A question interrupts their inner dialog with themselves over nonsense. Then again. Then again. Then again... Then boom! So how can we use this every day? That's easy, too, as I found out. All decent marketing materials mention at some point that your attitude will be greatly influenced by the things you surround yourself with. That goes for the thoughts you hold in awareness. In other words, if you hold good positive information in your mind, your attitude will be positive. You will strive harder to achieve your goals as a result. If you focus on mostly negative stuff and only hang out with chronic complainers, you will be down on life and very likely your productivity will suffer. Here's the rub in choosing the good stuff, though. You have oodles of information stored in your memory. And it's a mess in terms of organization. The good, the bad, the ugly, the useful, the trivial, the sacred, the profane. It's all over the place. In order to bring it to the surface (conscious awareness) according to a standard, you have to tell it to come up. Or you have to tell your subconscious to find certain stuff and shove it up into awareness. The very best way nature gives us to do this through a filter is to ask questions. If you ask something specific of the brain, it will give you something specific back. Now what happens if you ask a garbage question? Obviously, the brain will automatically give you garbage information. And if you ask a good question? You get good information, of course. One of the worst things you can do to yourself is to keep asking questions you know you can't possibly answer. Why don't those people drive faster? What's wrong with that jerk? Why is this happening to me? Why can't people just do the right thing? How could he possibly think that? And so on... There's no way you can know why "those people" don't drive faster (presuming no one is in front of them). Maybe their car has trouble. Maybe they are getting sick. Maybe they are learning how to drive. Maybe they are rip-roaring assholes. There's know way you can know. And your brain knows it, too. So it loops in one false answer back to the question, back to another false answer and back to the question, and so on until you are nothing but good and mad at the world. The same goes for the other questions. All they do is make you upset and frustrated. And you can't turn your brain off so long as the question is there. I caught myself this morning doing this. I was feeling terrible. Depressed and irritable. I kept asking in my mind, "Why do I have to feel bad like this?" "Why won't this go away?" "Why bother?" And so on... Then I thought, on looking at it, these questions sound like pure garbage. No wonder I feel bad. Let me try a different question. So I asked myself, "What can I do to feel better?" Whamaroonie! Just by asking that question, I immediately started to feel better. Then some pleasant ideas started coming. There actually were some things I could do to feel better, starting with thinking about an Internet template I am working on. And I sat staring for a bit, absolutely astonished. Dayaamm! It worked! The truth is it didn't last too long since my depression was a bit deep. But when the good vibes started fading, I asked myself once again, "What can I do to feel better?" Bam! Up again. I asked my brain a good question and it responded automatically with a good response. How cool is that? I'll tell you how cool. It doesn't get any cooler for me. I like it. A lot. So now what? I don't know about you, but I'm taking this one to the bank. I've already started planning an Internet marketing project around it. Why don't you give it a try? (Assuming you don't already do this.) I'm interested in hearing how this works when others do it. This also got me to speculating about why intelligent grownups with good hearts hold on so strongly to bad ideas—to bad philosophies. And I got to thinking that maybe the quality of the ideas is not the problem at all. Maybe those ideas are more the result than the cause. Maybe the real problem (or one of the main problems, anyway) is the quality of the questions they keep asking. Michael Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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