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Excerpt from Chapter 10 of Getting the Truth

How to Ask the Right Question the Right Way

I asked the pastor, "May I smoke while I pray?"  Absolutely not.

I then asked, "May I pray while I smoke?" Absolutely.

The question structure determines the response.

Structure your initial questions to promote open, uncontaminated responses. Use only mutually understood words. Then look for precision, accuracy, simplicity, and directness. You then focus on where those are missing.

Here are some first questions/requests that may be properly constructed to help minimize contamination and produce uncontaminated responses:

• Tell me why you are here.

• Why am I here?

• What happened?

• What brought you here?

• Tell me about yourself.

All of these questions/requests are open ended. They allow the subject great latitude in determining where they start.

Think about it. Where do you start? Where you start determines where you finish. Where the subject starts her response is very important. It gives you insight into how they think and how they express themselves. It can tell you if they are linear, chronological thinkers or something else. It gives you a glimpse into what you can expect and to compare later responses. In short, these early explanations, discussions, will form the foundation to analyze and interpret the subject’s overall response. 

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