How to Answer Difficult Questions

How to Answer Difficult Questions


After presentations, sometimes we get easy softball questions. Often times, however, we get pushback. People want to question what we just said and they obviously disagree just based upon the way they’re asking the question. And, it’s important to be able to handle these disagreeable kinds of questions without getting hostile back. Let’s take a deeper look at this. Hello there friends. I’m Alex Lyon and this is Communication Coach. I’m here to help you increase your impact so you can lead your teams to higher levels of excellence. Oftentimes we get a little bit of prickly questions when we give a presentation. If we’re asking for something especially of the people who are there, they’re going to want to know what’s going on here. What are the real costs? And so you’ll get what you might feel like are hostile questions or disagreeable questions. And it’s very important that you maintain your composure because if you don’t you can sound defensive and lose credibility and oftentimes become much less persuasive for the presentation that you just gave. So here are a couple of tips. The first tip is do not use their language. So if they’re saying something like, Well don’t you think the costs are ridiculously high . . . You don’t want to start your answer by saying, No, I don’t think the costs are ridiculously high. Because now the words costs are ridiculously high are coming out of your mouth not just theirs. So do not use their defensive disagreeable hostile language. the second step is to use what I call a cost-benefit analysis style answers. The costs are where you acknowledge in one short phrase the cost that they’re pointing at and then you pivot and you give the benefits of your case. The cost part sounds like this. I hear your concerns . . . or the costs are real . . . Another one will be I understand your reservations . . . And then once you give that part, you pivot to the benefits the case that you want to make. And some sample phrases sound like this. On balance I believe . . . Another one would be when we weigh all the options . . . A third example is this is our best option moving forward . . . And that’s how those sound. When you string them together, let’s say you would just ask don’t you think the costs are ridiculously high, you could answer like this. I understand your reservations. However, when we wait all the options . . . And then you build your two or three pointer affirmative case for the proposal that you’re pitching. When we do this we avoid the hostility in their language. We bring the temperature down in the room so you can have a nice composed discussion. And you’re going to come off that much more credible and that much more persuasive. Sometimes, by the way, they really are bringing up good concerns that you need to consider. I don’t think you should ever use this cost-benefit analysis style answer to blow off what they’re saying because the costs are real and you want to be serious about that. This is not a [just] a good sounding way to answer your question. You should have a thorough analysis of the issues. Never use it to blow somebody off and by the way sometimes the costs are really high. There’s an old, there’s a movie called Argo. Great movie and they were considering some really bad options. None of them sounded good but they had to do something and a line from that movie is, This is the best bad option we have. Oftentimes when you’re facing issues, you’re facing problems and people are pushing back. Really sometimes they are bringing up actual costs that you need to consider and have your eyes open as you pitch. You don’t want to build an overly sunny case for something you have to be in touch with both sides of that scale. Question of the day. What are your tips for handling questions where people are pushing back on your presentation, on your proposed? I’d love to hear your comments below. So thanks. God bless. And until next time, I hope you get to use the tips in this video after your very next presentation.

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