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Frame control for "trap questions": don't answer the question, but verbalize their game

Sometimes you will get asked "trap questions".

These trap questions are not real questions, but attempt at framing you or your stance in a negative light.

There are different types of "trap questions".
Loaded questions, for example, contain within them a presupposition that simply by answer the question, will become true.
Leading questions instead seek to nudge you towards a specific answer that either makes you look silly, or invalidates your values/previous stance.

When you get asked these types of questions, you risk of stepping right into that trap.
Plus, you give them too much power and control, which disempowers you -and you don't want to do that with people who are out to control and dominate you-.
So, instead of answering the question, address the frame of the question.

A few ways to do it:

  • Go meta: explain the game they were playing, then once you bust their trick frame, feel free to answer the question you choose to answer (for example, their original question, but free of their initial assumption)
  • Ask them to formulate a real question: you can use this technique either by first going meta, or by just asking them to give you a clearer question.
    • Go meta, then to reformulate: this is the equivalent of spanking a child for throwing the toy and then telling them to pick the toy and "make it right". It also gives you power because you task the receiver
    • Ask them to reformulate again: A wonderful option because if they play the game twice, the game becomes more obvious, and they will look like nasty game players with an agenda. Basically, you give them rope to hang themselves. After they repeat twice, you can still put the last nail in the coffin by verbalizing their game

See Jordan Peterson going meta, plus asking to reformulate:

Her: what is your answer to big problems, beyond banale comments like "clean your room"
Peterson: I would consider that more of an opinionate political statement than an actual question (goes meta, busting her frame), so why don't you try reformulating that (asks her to ask again. He tasks her, which gives him power and control)

And this is an example of the first method, which is also in Power University:

frame control with leading questions




rachel and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
rachelMatthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

For brevity, on the first technique.  How about?

That sounded like more of a statement. (Exposes game)

I d be happy to answer any questions.  (Gives a bit of power back - allowed to question you)

If they r completely hostile, I wouldn't say the second line - they ll just re-group and attack.

Yeah, it's a good reply to say:

That sounded like more of a statement. I d be happy to answer any questions

It uncovers the game of hiding a statement or criticism behind a question, while also displaying a cooperative attitude if they also choose to cooperate.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?