Asking the right questions, quick-witted answers: rhetoric and communication in the space zoo

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Text comes from: Einfach schlagfertig: Zehn Methoden, die jeder anwenden kann (2015) from Peter Kensok, Petra Schächtele-Philipp, published by BusinessVillage Verlag, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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A good question is always more elegant than a bad answer, even in reparteeism. Questions work sovereign and constructive. And they are a very elegant stylistic device.

Asking the right questions, quick-witted answers: rhetoric and communication in the space zoo

Here writes for you:


Peter Kensok peter_kensokPeter Kensok is Peter Kensok is communication trainer, coach and psychotherapist. 


Here writes for you:


Petra Schächtele-Philipp schaechtlePetra Schächtele-Philipp is a trainer and rhetorician.


From the author:



Questions as an elegant form of rhetoric

The question as a rhetorical form has been called the "queen of rhetoric" since the philosophers of classical antiquity. True masters were not the ones who could answer but those who asked grandly and made an answer almost impossible.

Questions trigger the now familiar response reflex in the other and force him to do the work himself that he was about to charge us. Really artful questions are factual, constructive - and short.

Closed vs. open questions

If the correct answer to a question is rather 'yes' or 'no', we are talking about closed questions. Open questions, on the other hand, require detailed answers and usually begin with W question words: who, how, when, what, where, what ... Statistically, 90 percent of all questions are closed. Only 10 percent are open questions and thus the favorites of the really elegant quick-witted questioners!

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  • "You have no experience at all!"
  • “Are you serious?” Would be a closed question that hits the questioner like a boomerang: “Yes, of course!”
  • Instead, ask openly: "Which knowledge do you think I lack exactly?"

In order to answer this open question, your counterpart must think about it and switch from emotion to logic. You interrupted and redirected his impulse! As he thinks, you can take a deep breath and plan your next steps.

Each argument is vulnerable

Every argument is vulnerable and can be questioned:

  • “What exactly do you mean / speak against XY…?”
  • “What exactly do you mean by…?”
  • "What are you comparing to ...?"
  • "What should be done so that YX does not apply?"
  • "What should I do, change ...?"
  • "What is it for you ...?"
  • "What do you understand under…?"

Questions take the others seriously. This can go so far as to make him unpleasant and he must recognize that his objections have neither hand nor foot.

Asking questions we recommend as a quick-witted method especially introvert people. One of their typical characteristics is that they question and thoroughly think through everything. To formulate questions well is much easier for them than extroverted characters. With the method> questions <you can make a wonderful strength out of its apparent weakness.

Means against counter questions

If your counterparty also contests counter-issues, best cover your own protection strategy:

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  • "What would you have done in my situation?"
  • "That's not what it is about!"

Reasonable responses to the statement:

  • "I asked first!" can be:
  • "I'll be happy to tell you after you've answered my question."
  • “I would like to answer your question. And please be kind enough to tell me what you're getting at. ”
  • "To be able to answer your question correctly, I need additional information."

Pay particular attention to generalizations and comparisons unrelated like: always, never, all, none, better, worse. In such a case ask, for example:

  • “Worse compared to what for?”

Sometimes you get the answer:

  • "That is a difficult question."

Playing with language

Be careful not to repair. But remember this mechanism for your counterpart. Then wait patiently for an answer. Your counterpart may have convictions, which are really worth it.

> The other side <and the following methods> Play with the language <and> Agree <each have two directions. They meet the others, but we also do ourselves very well. They strengthen their own ego and make fun. Sometimes, however, too much!

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Method for the ego

“The advantage of cleverness is that you can pretend to be stupid. The opposite is more difficult."

said Kurt Tucholsky (1890 - 1935), German journalist and writer.

Just because you would probably like more of it, please use this method carefully! It is best for communication, if you first practice these methods internally so that they are available to you as a pattern of thought and action. However, they only apply it in an absolute emergency and then speak it out.

Risks and side effects

The beauty of all ten quick-paced methods is that they almost always affect us. If we get a good response in the style of the models 6 to 8, we feel even less inwardly as a victim. We are much more mentally warm, so we can better navigate through the 5 method.

With the methods 6 to 8, please always remember that this type of defense is fun for us, but it is very likely that the other one will cause bad feelings. This is rarely helpful in the result, especially when talking to customers or your own boss.

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And now to the quick wit method ›The other side…‹

Like in the Space Zoo

Years ago, a short story about a space zoo, a large space ship that travels from one planet to another, as before, the wandering circus appeared from city to city. On each planet, the space ship folds away the outer shell, and the inhabitants can look at the animals of foreign planets behind glass for an appropriate fee.

On departure, the captain then reveals to his passengers the next destination. It turns out that the animals of the space shuttle are passengers of a planetary tour. In order not to get any foreign infections, they look from the space ship the other surroundings through the armored, transparent walls of their luxury apartments. - A very nice example for the other side. The laughing third is the travel agent, who can pay off both the visitors and the visitors.

An attack says a lot about the attacker

The main problem with attacks is that we relate each other's statements to ourselves, then feel bad or are offended. But who decides that you were actually attacked? Perhaps the interviewee's statement referred to him and his own personal problem ...

Im Sense With elegant quick wit, we no longer have to relate a statement to ourselves, but can leave it with our counterpart. Or we change the reference and the framework. It is important that we act appropriately instead of going too far. Let us always strive for a cultivated form of verbal encounter after we have decided that the ›The Other Side‹ method is also appropriate for the current situation:

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