Conversation is not Football; Questions Won’t Get You a Yellow Card

In football, players’ questioning invites the wrath of the referee. But in conversation, the story is different. Questioning while conversing takes you to the winning trail. You score on likability too (According to a Harvard study on conversational skills).

While conversing, we impart info about ourselves to others and receive their thoughts in return. A balancing act between these two make the conversation interesting. But is this really happening?

The Mistake We All Make

For speakers, it is always tempting to weigh in; more so in senior-junior episodes.   We continue to talk about our thoughts without looking at how the other side responds.

What Causes This? Psychologists say that egocentric behaviour is the ‘game’ the brain centers play. When we continuously talk about ourselves we get a sense of fulfilment as derived from other material pleasure-say eating a good food. But a prolonged self-talk points to one’s nervousness or low confidence level. 

What is the remedy? The remedy lies in realizing that the conversation has another side and we need to engage them too in the conversation. 

The Three Questions Formula

The Harvard study suggests that this can be achieved by asking three questions. The first question is to learn about the person to make him/her feel that you care the person.  The two follow up genuine questions are meant to seek their knowledge, opinion, experiences and advice to show that you respect their views which results in enhancing your likability. 

How the Questions Work

  • Questions convey your interest in listening to others.
  • They make them feel recognized.
  • They lead to a sound interpersonal construct.


Punching is good in wrestling.  In conversation, temptation for self-punch should be avoided, lest you stand to lose. Here, the rule of the game is, when you help others to open up, others would love to talk with you. This creates an inter-personal bonding.

Learners’ Opportunity

Honest conversation is a productive work place engagement. To get more insights on work place engagements, check our program @

Discussion Question

Recall a recent conversation you had with your office superior. Did it help you find a common ground on the topic discussed? Why?

Key Words

#BCSS#Conversation#Harvard Study##onlinembacourse#mbabestcourses

Source Article

Inc. Newsletter, October 2021