How A Classic Brain Teaser Can Help You Ask The Right Questions

There’s a classic brain teaser that goes by many names, one being “The Lady and the Tiger.” The situation: You’re standing before two doors, one leading to a princess (i.e., happiness), the other leading to a tiger (i.e., certain death). A man stands before each door; one man always lies, the other always tells the truth. But there’s no way to tell which is which. What one question do ask to be sure you can figure out which door is which?

You can ask the same question to either man: “If I asked the other guard which door led to the lady, what would he say?”

If you’re asking the truthful man, he’ll be giving you the other (lying) man’s answer, which would be a lie. If you’re asking the lying man, he would be lying about what the other (truthful) man would say, so it would still be a lie. So whichever door they say leads to the lady, the other one is the actual safe door.

Talk about the importance of asking the right questions!

Sometimes when talking to an fellow employee, or perhaps interviewing for a new job, you may not get far if you ask “What do you think of (thing xyz)?”, as they may not be able to share their personal opinions. But if you ask, “What would other employees say they thought of the new process?” you just might see the information flow more freely.

I can’t promise it’ll lead you to the princess, but it’ll certainly give you a better idea of which way to go!

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Paul Cherry

For over two decades, sales expert and author PAUL CHERRY has helped B2B sales professionals close more deals in all major industries. As a recognized thought leader in customer engagement strategies, Paul Cherry has been featured in more than 250 publications, including Investor’s Business Daily, Selling Power, Inc., Sales & Marketing Management, The Kiplinger Letter, and Salesforce.

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Paul Cherry is the president of Performance Based Results. PBR delivers intense, customized sales team training programs and sales management coaching to companies throughout North America. Paul has worked with more than 1,200 organizations, including 175 of the Fortune 500, plus more than a thousand entrepreneurial, small to mid-sized, cutting-edge businesses looking to dominate their niche markets. Clients typically get 7 times their return-on-investment (ROI) or better.

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Paul Cherry’s top-rated bestseller, Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really Wants (AMACOM) has been listed on BookAuthority’s “100 Best Sales Books of All Time” and has been published in four languages. He is also the author of Questions That Get Results (Wiley) and The Ultimate Sales Pro (HarperCollins Leadership).