The Power of Questions: What happens when we're asked a question?
November 02, 20212 min read
So, what happens when we're asked a question?
Before we get into the details, let me ask you a question:
What was the best part of your day so far and why?
Whether you realised it or not, when you are being asked a question (or in this case reading it), your brain automatically starts searching for an answer and cannot contemplate anything else but the answer.
Your brain is stimulated and releases serotonin, which causes it to relax and help you to find the most suitable answer or solution.
Following this, dopamine is released and most of the time this triggers our reward system and makes us feel motivated to come up with an answer. Sometimes it might actually induce fear of not being able to come up with the right answer and might thus stifle your ability to think clearly - but it seems plausible to believe that this is more often the case when we're in an intimidating situation or environment and can depend on how we see ourselves and the world around us.
This process is a mental reflex termed 'instinctive elaboration', which takes over our brain's thought processes.
Obviously your rational mind can step in soon after and make you decide not to answer or not give a truthful answer, however your thoughts will still have been shaped by the question nonetheless. So it seems questions 'hijack' our brains demanding our full attention, even if just for a short moment.
Being aware of this can actually help us. We can make sure to ask enough questions in conversations to keep the other person engaged, but also build more trust and find common ground. When we make use of this knowledge by making sure to ask ourselves more questions, we can help ourselves find more clarity and stay closer to our own values.
Hoffeld, David. The Science of Selling: Proven Strategies to Make Your Pitch, Influence Decisions, and Close the Deal. United States, Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.