How to be lied to

"Does this dress make me look fat?"

People lie to you every day. And it’s most likely your own fault.

"Hi, welcome to our store. Can I help you?"

"So, tell me, what problems does your company face?"

"Why didn’t your VC firm fund us?"

"Can you please blurb my book?"

"When do you think you will be ready to invest in this solution?"

"How am I doing?"

"So, when does the next budget cycle begin?"

"Do you like this product?"

"Would you recommend us to a friend?"

"Did you pack your own luggage?"

Every question represents a choice for the person you are asking. She can choose to take a risk and tell you truth, or she can dissemble, fib or outright lie, and save your feelings or avoid an awkward situation.

The way you ask the question, then, matters.

The easy answer to, "Can I help you?" is, "I’m just looking." On the other hand, the easy answer to, "Do you want to see what’s on sale?" is, "yes."

Most of the time, we ask questions hoping for lies. It’s easier that way.

But what if you really want to know? (and you should).

"What is the best thing about our product? The worst?"

"Now that you’ve read our business plan, if you could change one thing about it, what would it be?"

"Who’s the weakest person on our team, do you think?"

The thing is, once you get someone to tell you tell you the truth, you have no right to argue with them. Punishing someone for giving you honest feedback just guarantees that they’ll never do it again.

And when was the last time you persuaded someone they were wrong about their opinion?