Ask Questions to Take Control

If you want to have more control in situations and conversations, try asking more questions. One of the key ideas I suggest people write down during my seminars is this: “The person who asks the question controls the conversation or the situation.”

Let me demonstrate how this works. You walk into a store and the salesperson asks, “How are you today?” Isn’t there a natural tendency to answer?

Here is another situation. A friend with whom you are talking suddenly asks you a question. Do you stop and answer the question or do you continue with your monologue? Chances are you stop and answer the friend’s question.

If you want to discipline a student or child, control the situation by asking a reflective question. Never argue with a young person.

The same principle holds true for influencing anyone; be the person who does the asking. Learning how to ask reflective questions is a skill anybody can learn and is one of the most effective approaches to influencing other people.

The other day when I walked onto an airplane and the airline attendant asked, “How are you today?” I responded, “How would you like me to be?” He said, “Great!” And I said, “That’s how I am.”

When I walk into a store and the salesperson asks, “How are you today?” I respond with a question: “How are you?”

Be the person who asks the question. You will be more effective while having fun.


Teaching, parenting, and simply living can be stressful at times. That’s why I wrote my newest book Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey. If you’re looking for stress management advice, check it out. The book is available as a print book (Buy one and get a second copy free to give as a gift), as an eBook, and as an audio book at