House of Cards: Here’s the One Phrase Frank Underwood Uses That Makes Him a Master Salesman

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I’m a huge fan of the “House of Cards” on Netflix so you can imagine my excitement when Season 2 went live yesterday. Apart from all the reasons I have for loving Kevin Spacey’s character, I have always wondered one thing: Why does Frank Underwood always say “How Do You Mean?” instead of “What Do You Mean?” when he’s dealing with people?

My first thought was that it was poor grammar, but I’m far from a Grammar Nazi so what would I know? After some research, I came across an interesting blog post from QBS, a company that develops sales training programs for organizations all over the world. According to their blog, this one word change can have some impactful results when it comes to sales:

Asking, “What do you mean?”, generally causes people to go backwards in the conversation, by revisiting or justifying what they just said. But in sales, we’re not wanting to go backward. Rather, we want the other person to share more detail.

By asking, “How do you mean?”, you won’t have to worry about grammar. Whenever you deliver these four words, what people really hear is: “I am very interested in what you just said, can you please tell me more?”

I’ve heard Frank Underwood use these words numerous times during the season. No matter how manipulative and ruthless he is, you have to give the guy credit for knowing how to spin people in his direction. Most people wouldn’t recognize how these subtle differences can dramatically alter the results you get, but then again, who said that their was room at the top of the food chain for everyone?

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