The most powerful way to get someone to agree with your idea is to ask them the leading question, and have them give you the answer you want.
Ronald Regan used this technique a lot.
He did not tell the American people during his election campaign: “your economic situation has deteriorated over the last 48 months”, instead he asked the famous question: “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?”. The answer was a resounding “NO” which led to the obvious follow up question:” What do you need to change?”
Resoundingly, he was elected.
Asking a question compels a response, and the formulation of the words to convey that response in turn provokes a deeper, more intensive processing of the question, and leaves less room for ambiguity in the way the receiver responds.
It is the beginning of an engagement process.
However, it does not always work.
Ever noticed how pollies never answer the question asked unless the answer suits them?
Watching the 7.30 report a few minutes ago (Aussie readers will know what that is) the Opposition leader, in response to pointed questioning about the announcement by Toyota today that they will cease manufacturing cars in Australia, simply pointed out that in the 5 months since the Abbott Government had been elected, all three car-makers had announced production would cease. As if the last 25 years, overvalued $A, and small scale of the domestic market had no impact.
To anyone with half a brain watching, his failure to at least address the question in some modest way, simply corroded his credibility.
So, answering a question well is as much an art as asking them, and can be used to turn the tables.
Next time you see a really good salesman, just watch and listen, and learn.