Saturday, June 18, 2011

Market Research and Interrogation - Asking Questions and Getting Answers.

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Market research and interrogation have a great deal in common.

Consider this: an interrogation or "interview" is really very like a one-on-one focus group. The objective is to obtain (or confirm) information or intelligence which you either a) didn't have before, or wish to b) confirm from a predetermined reliable source in a reliable manner.

The key to the questioning process is to avoid posing questions which are leading, or which are framed in such a manner as to force  pressured, inaccurate answers from the interviewee (being polite, or trying to provide you with the answers that he or she believes will best satisfy or palliate you). The idea is to get the interviewee to speak with as little prompting as possible.

Assuming that physical torture is not an option (which it really shouldn't be, as the results obtained are, arguably, inaccurate in too many cases -- this is putting aside the obvious humanitarian issues as well -- from waterboarding to listening to an endless tape loop of Barry Manilow albums, these methods tend to stimulate the creative survival instinct in your interviewee, and produce specious albeit occasionally convincing responses).

Two things are common to most inexperienced and not profoundly emotionally-disturbed interviewees - a) they feel compelled to fill the uncomfortable silence in a one-on-one conversation with their own talking, and; b) if falsehoods or misstatements are hurled rapidly at them, they become triggered into "correcting" the "wrong story" and replace the suppositions with facts - they often reveal much more information than they had expected to offer, and more than you, as the interviewer, ever expected to receive.

Utilizing the tidbits of Human behavioral psychology cited in the prior paragraph,two techniques are most effective in order to draw an individual out of himself or herself of his or her own initiative so that you obtain the most complete and accurate intelligence. Here they are:

1) Prolonged silence - ask a very straightforward, question, and then remain silent. In the void of uncomfortable silence, most interviewees will begin to talk in order to quell the discomfort of the awkward quiet. If the answers seem to be merely "small talk" or temporizing, remain silent and continue to look at the interviewee. The question will eventually be answered if you don't re-engage in any casual banter and maintain the intensity of your demeanor as well as your silence. Don't converse. Listen.

2) Shoot out a high-speed stacatto recitation of absolutely, patently false statements. In defense, or in correcting what is perceived to be a misperception on your part, the interviewee, will interrupt you (at which point you must maintain a skeptical expression, as well as silence, as in persistent doubt) in order to "correct you." Invariably, the proferred correction will yield more information than would be required in response to your obvious (and frequently obnoxious) ploy.

Apply what you have learned above to either situation -- either when being questioned or when asking the questions. Understanding impulsive responses is important in every aspect of information-gathering and in such mundane, but daunting challenges as managing employees, operatives or teammates.

In retrospect, I might have titled this post "Management By Manipulation." But then, the term manipulation has acquired a perjorative connotation. The irony here, Commanders, is that all Human interaction requiring communication involves some element of what could be easily termed manipulation. Oh well.


Douglas E Castle

Remember: Leadership requires an understanding of Human behavioral psychology and a masterful application of that knowledge. You must understand how others think and act -- but it is every bit as important to know about your own triggers, buttons, self-limiting beliefs, insecurities, bravado and propensities to sabotage yourself.

Note: I often write about management, leadership and team-building issues in such TNNWC publications as The National Networker (TNNWC) Weekly Newsletter, The Blue Tuesday Report, and Expert Advice And Insights From TNNWC.

NOTICE: This article is Copyright © 2011 by author Douglas E Castle with all rights reserved. It may be republished without permission provided that it is published in full, with all hyperlinks and exhibits left intact, and with full attribution given the author. This article does not contain or constitute medical, health, psychological, legal, regulatory, investment, securities, financial, tax, or any other form of professional advice -- the reader acknowledges and accepts this disclaimer. Further, the reader indemnifies and holds harmless both the author and all publications in which this article appears of any damages, claims, loss, responsibility or liability emerging from the reader’s utilization of any information contained herein.

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Friday, June 03, 2011

Learn more by diversifying your interests, and watch your networking productivity FLY.

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Leaders, Consultants, Coaches, Strategic Planners and Entrepreneurs - Your interpersonal skills (i.e., your ability to deal with others in various circumstances and contexts) and the broadness (breadth) of your knowledge base (your ability to speak about and identify with people across a vast spectrum of diverse interests) are a great deal more important than your technical skills or your native business acumen. You must become a student (and eventually a master) at behavioral psychology (everyone you deal with will have emotional issues that you will have to either address head-on or to navigate around), and you must not be too specialized or captively focused in a narrow field of work or study, because you will be unable to relate to or converse with the larger network of people -- potential contacts, clients and friends -- that surrounds you. If you are too narrowly-focused, you tend to isolate yourself from many business and social opportunities for self-growth, professional growth and business growth. Yes -- you become a technical island drifiting away from the mainland of Humanity. Diversify your inputs, your studies, your pursuits and broaden your horizons -- learn a little bit more about a great many things -- don't be afraid of becoming too much of a generalist, or expending your time on things unrelated to your immediate occupation. The more you understand about the workings of people, and the more you know about a great of topics, the greater the probability of your having increasingly productive meetings with people in general. When you widen you circle, you multiply your possibilities. Today, Braintenance Brings Thinkers, Tinkers, Thought-Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Initiators and Cantankerous Instigators (Some Of Whom are Members of TNNWC -- although I blush to say it) a knowledge base diversification and expansion program from none other than Dictionary.Com: Try these:
Strange and Amusing Flashcards:
Bottom line: The more you know about people, and the broader your knowledge of things in general, the greater likelihood of your success in the game of life.
What the title of this post should have been:
Intellectual Diversification - Expand Your Networking Ability and Leadership Skills.
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