Trapping Your Audience with Binary Questions Raising the Barr Weekly Memo: Issue 223

What’s your reaction to binary questions? The sort of questions that demand a yes or no answer. I confess that I’ve used them and recommended their use in the past but have recently changed my mind. Binary questions often feel like a trap, they suggest a too good to be true potential outcome and represent the kind of questions that patronize our intelligence. Here are a few examples:

  • Is there a genius inside of you?
  • Are you suffering from the “me too” syndrome?
  • Is your business headed for disaster?
  • Are you on track to have your best year ever?
  • Are you effective at getting referrals?

I find above such questions to be obnoxious, which leads me to respond with a “Duh!”

So what’s the alternative?

Although there is probably a place and a time for binary questions, I prefer and recommend the use of thought-provoking, open-ended questions that are significantly more powerful and effective. Such open-ended questions would often start with: what, why, how, when, where and who. Let me share some examples:

  • Why not join us and start your remarkable transformation now?
  • How do you envision your future and where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
  • What is the voice that holds you back and how can you silence it?
  • When are you going to grow your business 10X and how will you get there?
  • Which new products and services are you developing and what markets are you planning to penetrate?
  • Here are some of our clients most profound innovations. What are the ones you are most proud of?

Wouldn’t you agree that the latter type question are much more powerful than the former? Oops, I just asked you a binary question that some of you may answer with a “No.” So let me ask it differently:

How can you leverage the power of open-ended questions to engage your audience rather than trap them?

What if you could create your future, build an amazing life for you, your family and your clients by substituting binary questions with open-ended questions? Why not start crafting and following yours this week?

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