How to get past the: I don’t know answers!
Psychological techniques guaranteed to cut down on the: I don’t know responses to questions and help get more detailed information
Have you ever experienced when asking a certain person questions all you seem to get out of them is I don’t know? It can be really frustrating or even infuriating, perhaps it’s a work colleague, a friend or relative, Perhaps it’s a child and you ask them who done __________? Or what do you want to do when you leave school? Perhaps you are concerned that your child is being bullied and you can’t get any info out of them!
I have put together a few ways of helping you to get people to open up to you!
First try the good old trusted and reliable: I know you don’t know, but what if you did, what would you say? Or the: I know you don’t know, but if you were to guess, what would you say? I use these ones a lot and you would be surprised at how effective they are. Just a word of warning! they may work a couple of times with the same person but they will get wise to them if they really are trying to resist parting with information! but as a coach with paying clients they work extremely well, for example… clients that say something like… I don’t like the career I’m in but I don’t know what I want to do instead! i will use the previous ones and the following one as well; if you new you would not fail at anything you put your mind to and would be successful at it, what would you do? Or want to do?
Try making some up for yourself or for a specific individual, I just thought of one now… if know one cared about you answer what would you say? or if you didnt care what anyone thought about your answer what would you say? Another one just popped into my head… if you were a time traveller or be able to see into the future what would you say? Obviously haven’t used those last three because I just made them up! but you get the idea, try alleviating them from consequences repercussions, commitment or fears from answering your questions, to sum it up people don’t want to answer because they have some type of fear! so do what you can to eliminate or detach them from that fear
Something else worth noting is the quicker you get them to answer the better, because the quicker the answer the more unconscious the answer is and the more unconscious the answer it the more truthful it is
If you are still not getting anywhere and they are not opening up, then you may need some extra psychological leverage!
The reasons why a person may not want to answer a question is because they may either feel guilty, foolish, afraid or believe they will be judged negatively in some way
For example: if you asked a person who gets angry, what’s important about getting angry, what does it get you or help you avoid? And their answer is: ‘I don’t know’, then the question you may want to be asking yourself is: How or why is this person stopping themselves from answering my questions?
If all else fails, then answer the: I don’t know response with… you know research has proven that when someone says I don’t know, when asked a question, usually means one of 5 things:
- Too lazy or not intelligent enough to think about the question or find the answer
- They feel guilty or ashamed of the true answer
- They feel foolish or fear being judged, humiliated or criticised about the honest answer
- They are afraid! Maybe of the consequences of the real answer
- They are hiding something or don’t want to lie or be caught lying
You seem an intelligent person, I want you to take a moment to think about which one best applies to you?
If you don’t get an answer with this, then try the following, but approach the following with caution and make sure you have a good level of rapport: you want them to think you are thinking of something far worse! So they don’t feel so bad in telling you. e.g.: are you doing drugs? Are your parent’s aggressive and abusive people, have you done something so bad you believe you don’t deserve to be happy? Surely you cant be that insecure that you cant tell me! Etc (this technique connects the answer ‘I don’t know’ to a perceived identity which goes against how they see themselves, their identity, values, beliefs, morals and ethics and they will want to put you right)
People have an inherent need to be liked and perform in a manner consistent with how they see themselves and with how they think or like others perceive them
The Calm Coaching Federation of GB
NLP & Hypnosis Master and Trainer