What are the characteristics of elicitors?
People who master elicitation must know people well, this is an essential prerequisite. They know their way of behaving, as well as the differences which exist between the cultural predispositions of each one. Elicitors, normally, are people eager to help others, even people who are totally foreign to them. An elicitor is usually a knowledgeable person who can speak about any topic in a very professional manner.
Elicitors know a few things in depth and are often very drawn to rumors and gossip. They tend to correct others frequently. They think that others are generally honest people. When asked something honestly, they are often telling the truth. But they also have the ability to have their personal opinion admitted as absolute truth.
There are various elicitation techniques. One will be chosen according to the moment and the capacities of the elicitor. Here are some of the most effective techniques:
- Fake knowledge : pretending to have knowledge on certain subjects or to know people who have mastered it is a good example of elicitation. Here is a sentence that illustrates this technique: “ As the computer engineers with whom I worked… “ said.
- Bracketing (putting in brackets) : this involves giving a low estimate and a high estimate to train the interlocutor to answer a more specific number. For example, when a person says “ I think that taxes will increase between 5 and 10 euros ”, it is very likely that the other person answers “ Yes, 7 euros very exactly ”.
- Incomplete sentences : this is about starting a story in the hope that the interlocutor will want to finish it by adding specific knowledge. For example: “ I heard that Company X was developing an incredible new product capable of… ”. At this moment, the interlocutor will want to display the information that he holds and that he values.
- The lure of confidentiality : to carry out this technique, the elicitor will claim to disclose confidential information, in order to receive other confidential information from his interlocutor. For example, a sentence that begins with “ It stays between us but… ” falls into this category.
- Criticism : Criticizing an individual or an organization that the interlocutor is particularly interested in is a technique that trains them to divulge information in order to defend them. For example: “ It is strange that this company got this information” or “Everyone knows that company X has better engineers than company Y ”.
- The negation of the obvious : consciously saying something false leads the interlocutor to correct the elicitor by revealing real information to him. For example: “ Everyone knows that this process will not work, it is a dream that seems perfectly unattainable ”.
- Feigned ignorance : this is about pretending to know nothing about a subject. This practice leads the interlocutor to spread out over a domain that he masters, in order to play the role of teacher of the elicitor and to reveal to him a little too much. For example: “ I am new to this area and I could use all the information you have ”. Or, more simply: “ But how does this discipline work? “.
How to foil elicitation techniques?
The first thing to prevent others from getting confidential information from you is to identify what you want to protect. Out of all you know, what is the most valuable information to others? Once you have established what information to protect, you should be wary whenever someone refers to it. You should never give out information to people who are not entitled to know it, even if they are family or circle of friends.
To thwart the elicitation techniques, you can use various weapons, among which we find:
- Respond with blank or public information, such as that which appears in the press for example.
- Ignore the questions and change the subject.
- Respond with a question.
- Respond by asking the person why they are asking you this question.
- Give a poor answer.
- Say you don’t know the answer, that you don’t know anything about the topic in question.
- Clearly establish the fact that you cannot talk about this topic.
In a world where information is more important every day, the personal and business information we have can be very important to others. Fortunately, we do not share all of this information in our network, although some elicitors may try to get us to make this mistake. So we have to be very careful with the various techniques used for this purpose. Now you are able to identify and recognize them, in order to outsmart them. Of course, you can also use them to your advantage. For example, if you want to know what a friend of yours wants for a Christmas present, you now know how!