Ritual Questions

Ritual questions must always follow the compliment or comment you make.

Ritual questions are directly related to whatever your prospect may respond with. These questions can be closed or open.

Closed questions are answered with one word replies. Examples can be, "Do you like the food?", "So, you are a lawyer?", "What is that?" Closed questions tend to begin with "are", "who", "where" and "do"

Open questions encourage multi-paragraph replies and frequently begin with "how" or "why." A typical open question can be, "Why did you choose the ravioli?" , "How do you cope with those kids next door?", "In what ways do you think the tax budget can be decreased?"

Ritual questions break the ice and send the signal that you are deeply interested. It fuels conversation.

A good practice would be to begin by making three or four closed questions. Once you have listened and opened up your prospect, begin asking open questions. Probe him for details that can fuel further questions, thus prolonging and energizing the conversation.

• Listen actively.

A problem plaguing many is not knowing what to say next. When our turn comes to speak, we clam up. This mental blank can be easily remedied. Do not worry about what to say! Simply listen carefully to whatever your companion says. When your turn comes to speak, make a follow up question related to his last few paragraphs. You may also paraphrase his last statement in a question format so as to invite him to continue talking. For instance, your companion may say ,"I feel unappreciated at work and I want to quit!" A good paraphrase will be, " You don't think you'll work there anymore because your efforts are not recognized?" or " Now if I understand correctly, you don't find contentment in your job anymore?" or " Do you imply that ?"

Paraphrasing this way or making follow-up questions encourages your companion to keep speaking and relieves you of the burden of having to think of your own subjects. It demonstrates your attentiveness and interest.

Remember that as you listen, lean forward slightly, nod at pertinent points and maintain eye contact.

• Follow up with questions to seek more information.

Seek more information. The more, the better. Use previously revealed data to uncover personal facts, opinions and dreams. It would help to seek common interests as well. You won't have to speak much by asking questions. In fact, the general rule for good conversationalists is the 70-30 Rule. The rule states that to be a brilliant conversationalist, you must listen 70% of the time and speak 30% of the time. By letting your companion speak more, you appear witty, charming, attentive and engaging. This secret can let you get away looking wonderful while doing very little.

• Pass the conversational ball back and forth.

You can't remain silent forever! When the time comes, reveal to your companion that you are just like him in certain ways. You do this by disclosing free information about yourself. The best time to do this would be when he reveals personal information similar to yours. For instance, you might say, "Me too! I also love skiing in the Alps!", or "Likewise! I hate chilidogs because they burn my stomach." or "That sound's like me! I just got beaten by a cop." With this opening, continue to elaborate on the similarity between you. You could further enrich the conversation by delving on other matters similarly related to the current topic.

Once you disclose a paragraph or so about yourself, don't hog the conversation. Pass the ball back to your companion by giving another question. You may request for his opinion, comment or advice based on what you've just said.

When your companion responds, share a little more about yourself, then pass the ball back to him. This act of passing the conversational ball back and forth balances the discussion and makes it ultimately satisfying. After the encounter, your new-found friend will crave to talk with you again!

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