No matter our role, we all face really challenging questions from time to time – those pointed, unexpected queries that can leave us squirming or wishing we could head for the door.
The Difficult Questions
For leaders, some zingers are from investors shooting at you from multiple angles, like rapid fire:
As employees, the difficult questions often come from a client or customer. Clearly, the response has to be smart and on point. In those situations, it can be a challenge to catch your breath and answer clearly and thoughtfully. Still, it’s critically important to put your best response forward.
How to Buy Yourself Time to Put Your Best Response Forward
The solution? Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of using the right phrases to buy time to think.
I’ve worked with scores of CEOs and executive leaders who find just a few extra seconds can be the difference between the perfect response and a clumsy one.
The solution will vary based on the question, but consider these tried and true strategies:
1. That’s a really great question. [Pause] (This works best when used only once or twice.)
2. Got it. I need a moment to pull together my thoughts for you. [Pause] (Only use this once to maintain your credibility.)
3. [Pause and reflect back] “So, what you’re asking is (paraphrase question)” or “You’re wondering how we…”
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