Thursday, March 31, 2011

You Don't Have to Answer Every Question

Today's selling point from communication expert Dianna Booher has an excellent point - you don't have to answer every question! If you're uncomfortable with a question, there are ways of deflecting it without stammering or turning beet red! Booher explains:

Growing up, we had to answer every question the classroom teacher asked, and that feeling of "must" still lingers. There are several ways you can deflect a question you don't want to answer, with or without giving a reason: "If I understand your question correctly, you're really asking if...," and give your own interpretation. "Your question prompts me to ask you something first. Is..." "I don't think that question has an answer." "The answer to that question would be purely speculative."

You can also use humor to deflect a question: "What a question! Do you want to get me fired?" (said with a light tone). "Don't we all wish we had the answer to that one...I'd settle even for half an answer." "You must have spent all night phrasing that question; give me a couple of weeks to come up with an answer, will you?"

If you're unsure whether the questioner has manipulative intentions, you can always ask the reason for the question or explain your reluctance in a straightforward way: "I'm curious. Why do you ask that question?" or "Under the circumstances, I don't think I want to answer that question" or "Such a question makes me a little uncomfortable. I'm not in a position to know all the related facts."

Sometimes not answering the question is the best response.

Author of 42 books, Dianna Booher, CSP, CPAE, delivers keynotes, breakout sessions, and training on communication and life-balance issues. Her latest books: Speak with Confidence, Your Signature Life, Your Signature Work, E-Writing, and Communicate with Confidence.

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