I’M MUCH LESS CONFUSED
when I know what kind of answers I’m hearing
PREVIOUS: Types of Qs (Part 3)
QUOTES: “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions” ~ Naguib Mahfouz, Egyptian writer
“The reason I talk to myself is that I’m the only one whose answers I accept.” ~ George Carlin
3 WAYS to RESPOND
UGLY – not responding at all.
• ‘Legitimate’ only if protecting yourself or someone important to you, a legal matter or matter of national security.
• Uncomfortable – not responding when asked an impertinent, rude or sensitive Qs
BAD – forcing the person asking the Q to work hard to figure out what the answer actually is. Not getting to the point, making things too complicated, or leaving out vital info…. leaves the listener confused, uncertain & frustrated – even if they finally figure out what the point was.
GOOD – making clear, declarative statements right away.
Especially in business settings, the most effective type of answer summarizes the bottom line succinctly first, and then gives supporting or background information if needed.
Categories of Responses:
• Direct Info (“I won’t be able to go with you on Wednesday”)
• Yes (“Yes, I do need to know what time you’re leaving…”)
• No (“No, I don’t understand what you’re asking…”)
• Maybe/ I’m not sure (“I might not be able to finish that in time…”)
Tip – with this last one, it’s always a good idea to continue with “…but what I do know is…” (Chart)
PROCEDURE for Answering
• Consider any Q an opportunity to provide information about yourself
• Pause a couple of seconds before responding, even if you know exactly what you want to say, to put your thoughts in order – to be clear & avoid misunderstandings
• Ask for clarification if you don’t understand the Q
• Be positive, don’t be afraid to say how you feel, or mention your skills & accomplishments – if relevant
• Ask the questioner if they understood your answer. Don’t be afraid to clarify or repeat your point
Qs of Fact or Procedure
The purpose of these Qs is to gather/share knowledge, & the answer is a matter of rule, requiring evidence & reasoning. There is either a right & or a wrong answer
Qs of Judgment
Because these Qs lend themselves to debate in order to identify the best solution, answers require evidence & reasoning through multiple viewpoints. There’s no one correct answer, only better & worse ones
Qs of Preference
Answers are a matter of preference, calling for subjectivity, since the purpose of these Qs is to elicit opinions & personal tastes (Dr. L. Elder & Dr. R. Paul)
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MAIN TYPES of Answers
When asked a ‘difficult’ or sensitive Q that would reflect badly on the responder or their ‘party’, tactics can include answering a Q with a Q, trying to draw attention to some positive aspect of the topic, totally changing the subject… Politicians are especially well-known for using this style
DIRECT & HONEST
This is what the questioner is looking for when asking a Q. Usually given in declarative sentences. “Keep it simple —”
Distorted answers tend to be based on a responder’s ‘understanding’ of social norms, stereotypes & other forms of bias. Different from lying, people may not realize their answers are influenced by prejudice, or they exaggerate to seem more ‘normal’ or successful.
Ultimately a form of protection, no matter how unnecessary, ‘unhealthy’ or harmful. A questioner may be able to pick up on a lie based on how plausible the answer is, but also on any non-verbal communication used immediately before, during &/or after the answer is given.
OUT of CONTEXT
The respondent will say something totally unconnected or irrelevant to the Q, or try to change topics. The answer may seem ‘logical’ to the speaker because what lead up to their answer is silently processed in their head, but all that’s verbalized is the end result – so it won’t make sense to the questioner, not being a mind-reader. In all such cases – if the issue is important enough – it’s necessary to focus the rssponder back to the original Q by repeating or rewording it
PARTIAL – People can often be selective about which questions or parts they wish to answer. This can cause confusion or distortion
REFUSING – The respondent may simply refuse to answer, either by remaining silent or by saying, ‘I am not answering’
STALLING – Although similar to avoiding answering a question, stalling can be used when more time is needed to formulate an acceptable answer. One way to do this is to answer the question with another question.