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Control Answering of Questions

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Steering the conversation > Control Answering of Questions

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When others ask you something, do not feel obliged to answer the question. You can, for example:

  • Ignore the question and carry on regardless.
  • Ask a question in return.
  • Tell them that you will answer the question soon, but need to explain something first.
  • Answer the question that you wanted to answer.
  • Ask them why they are asking you the question.
  • Ask them to clarify what they mean.

If they repeat the question, you can choose whether to answer this time, repeat your tactic (e.g. as a broken record) or use another method for resisting persuasion.

Example

When will you be ready?
Why do you want to know?

When will you be ready?
As I was saying, the hotel system is an important part of our strategy.

When will you be ready?
I'll let you know later, but first I have to explain the system so far.

Discussion

When a person asks a question, normal social rules say that the questioned person must answer the question. However there are no strong rules for what happens when the question is not answered. Thus, if you do not answer the question the other person becomes confused and you are now in control of the conversation.

Politicians being interviewed famously do not answer the question being asked, either twisting the question to answer in the way they want or completely ignoring the question. TV and radio interviews thus become a game of question and avoidance between the interviewer and the questioner.

See also

Resisting persuasion, Questioning techniques

 

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