“What’s your elevator pitch for Ask?” That’s the question I get from agents and publishers. Here’s what I tell them:
Ask: How to Relate to Anyone is a self-help book that unpacks the complexities around social communication based on groundbreaking research in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. It will improve all your relationships, in every context.
What’s the secret sauce?
The principle behind Ask is disarmingly simple: Switch your focus from conveying information to eliciting it. You can accomplish this goal by asking questions.
Implementing Ask is deceptively difficult. It’s beautifully explained in this blog post, by Judith E. Glaser, an expert in communications.
When we’re relating to others, it’s like to two addicts fighting over a limited supply of an addictive drug. Both want it. Once they get it, they don’t want to give it back or even share it.
When you are talking, “reward hormones” (like dopamine and oxytocin) are released into your brain, giving you a “high.” You feel great dominating the conversation and being entertaining.
How does the listener feel? According to Glaser, they “might feel cut off, invisible, unimportant, minimized, or rejected, which releases the same neurochemicals as physical pain.”
Use this knowledge
Now that you know how biology impacts the way you interact, use this knowledge to improve your relationships. While there’s a short-term sacrifice involved in asking questions and showing a genuine, sincere interest in others, there’s a long-term benefit.
When you transfer the “high” you get from talking to asking questions of your loved ones, friends and colleagues, you’ll experience an immediate and transformational improvement – and deepening – of those relationships.
That’s the promise of Ask.