How To Respond To Questions? – 17 Tips To Responding To Questions Effectively

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Have you ever given an answer to a question that you later regretted? We can lose money, time, and credibility by undercharging, overpromising, or making comments that aren’t appropriate. Using this five-step method, you can say exactly what you want right now in a simple but effective way. It has been shown to help you reconnect with yourself and speak from the heart. I encourage you to try these five steps the next time you are asked a difficult or thoughtful question. Take note of the outcomes.

In order to improve professional relationships, build trust among team members, and avoid misunderstandings, communication skills are essential in every industry. Knowing how to have difficult conversations is one aspect of having strong communication skills. You can demonstrate your integrity and foster a supportive work environment by effectively responding to challenging questions.

We talk about how important it is to respond to difficult questions and how to respond to questions you might not want to answer in this article.


Because it gives you a chance to provide information, clarify misunderstandings, and demonstrate your character, how you respond to questions, particularly difficult questions, is crucial. Your tone and delivery can help de-escalate a tense situation and foster mutual trust and understanding when responding to challenging questions.

You may have concluded from watching the presidential debates that answering questions is optional. Simply insert your own topic and continue if you do not wish to respond. However, if a client or boss asks a question of you at work, it’s not always a good idea to change the subject and push your own agenda. It is necessary to respond to queries.

According to Stan Steinreich, president and CEO of Steinreich Communications, a New York City-based crisis management public relations firm, “not to dodge, but rather to satisfy the questioner” is the best way to accomplish that without sounding like a politician. Here are nine ways to respond to a question you don’t want to answer, from politely declining to providing information.

How to respond to questions effectively?

When preparing to respond effectively and constructively to difficult questions, consider the following 17 suggestions:

1. Prepare for tough questions

It is helpful to anticipate potential questions when preparing for an important conversation, interview, meeting, or presentation. Prior to the encounter, organize your thoughts and prepare responses to difficult questions. Being prepared and anticipating what to expect can help you feel less stressed right now.

Although it may seem straightforward, there are so many things vying for our attention that it is easy to become distracted and miss the true meaning of the question. Keep your attention on the question; it might not be what you expected. You can learn a lot about your client by listening to them deeply, paying attention to their tone of voice and body language. You won’t have to waste time responding to their specific questions.

2. Pause before responding

Take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding to a challenging question. Take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and consider your response to the question to avoid a reactive response. You may have time during this pause to select an appropriate response, such as humor.

The second step is to stop for long enough to let your diaphragm breathe. We connect with our own Self through the breath. According to psychologists, the majority of responses to questions are based on what they believe the other person wants to hear. You become proactive rather than reactive by taking 2-4 breaths. We are connected to a higher intelligence through the stillness.

  • Do I understand the question?
  • Do I need to paraphrase to confirm I understand the question or acknowledge the emotion or meaning behind the question?
  • What is the best answer?
  • How much detail does the person need in the answer?
  • How can I answer directly and prompt another good question?
  • Is someone else in the meeting more qualified to answer?
  • If I don’t know the answer, how can I respond confidently or defer to someone else and maintain credibility?

Take a moment to pause rather than responding immediately to the question. Avoid hurrying. A strategy used to get you to stop thinking is hurrying. If the other person is talking quickly, it could be because they are visual thinkers or because they want to get you to do something quickly.

Taking a moment to reflect can also boost your credibility. As you carefully consider their question, you give the impression that you are seriously considering it. In some nations, such as Japan, this is regarded as polite and normal.

According to Sullivan, give yourself a few minutes to decide how you want to respond if you are asked a difficult question. Take some time to think,” he advises. You will notice that the presidential candidates will repeat or rephrase the question as a preamble whenever they do not respond to it. The stall provides an opportunity for them to reposition the information if they do it well.

Don’t answer quickly. When a question comes up, you might already know the answer. Still, pause. Smile. Relax.

  • A pause indicates interest.
  • A smile lets people know they matter.

3. Monitor your body language

Sometimes, what you say is just as important as what you say. When answering difficult questions, pay attention to your facial expressions, tone, and gestures. You must ensure that your body language conveys the intended meaning. For instance, your nonverbal cues contradict your words if you say, “That’s an interesting point,” but then you roll your eyes or turn away. You can demonstrate your engagement in a conversation in the following ways:

  • Make eye contact
  • Nod
  • Uncross your arms
  • Take notes
  • Shake hands at the end

Our body language is important when we answer questions. We have the ability to enhance the experience for everyone by being aware of our body language. Making eye contact, turning our bodies in their direction (a.k.a. “giving them our shoulders”), taking a small step in their direction, or smiling, for instance, can convey to the person asking the question that we are paying attention to and respecting their inquiry.

We may convey our discomfort with the question by avoiding eye contact, crossing our arms, turning or walking away, or frowning. Our body language can communicate to both ourselves and our audience! that we are comfortable answering questions and being asked them. We can control how we respond with our bodies when asked questions while teaching or presenting, despite the fact that body language is frequently a more automatic response.

4. Reword the question

When someone asks you a question, it’s important to make sure you know exactly what they want to know. You might want to rephrase their inquiry and repeat it to them by saying something along the lines of:

  • “What you’re asking is…”
  • “From my understanding, you want to know…”
  • “In other words…”

This helps you understand what the real question is and gives you more time to think about it. This additional step can assist you in identifying the problem, which you want to address in your response.

When someone asks you a question that requires thought, answer it back with the goal of aligning. This accomplishes two things. First, it makes things clear for both you and the person asking the question. Second, it gives you time to consider and contemplate the question in silence. When they complete this step, seminar participants claim that their initial reactive response transforms into a genuine response.

Take a look for yourself. Make use of it for contemplative questions that call for a little more thought before you can formulate your true response. Use it when your examiner isn’t explicit. They will value the opportunity to gain insight. You can also save time and get in touch with the people who are meant to be your customers if you are clear.

Many people ask rambling questions that frequently result in statements about their priorities. Avoid responding immediately when the question is being asked. To improve your ability to respond appropriately, satisfy the needs of your listener, and convey confidence and concern for the listener and their question, listen to the entire question.

5. Take more time if you need to

Consider not responding right away if you don’t know the answer to a difficult question right away. Instead of giving an immediate response that is incorrect, take the time to gather relevant facts and offer a comprehensive, accurate response. You can reply by using:

  • “Let me get back to you about that.”
  • “I need to do some research before I can answer that.”
  • “I don’t want to give you the wrong information, so let me speak with [name/department] first.”

6. Acknowledge the other person’s emotions

Recognize the other person’s emotion when confronted with a challenging question. As a result, they may feel more understood and seen. Avoid downplaying their emotions. Instead, let them know that you want to deal with the problem that’s making them feel bad and that their feelings are legitimate. You have options for responding, which include:

  • “I can see that you’re upset, and I understand.”
  • “I feel frustrated by this situation, too.”
  • “That does sound difficult.”

7. Answer a portion of the question

Try to find a part of a difficult question that you can answer right now when responding. You may choose to focus on a question’s less contentious or emotional component. Consider saying something like, “For the time being, let’s address…” You can offer to set up another meeting to talk about other issues.

Sullivan advises, “Find a part of the question that you can address if you don’t want to answer the whole thing.” You can say something like, “I appreciate that this is of interest right now.” “Let’s concentrate on this part,” he says. It may be sufficient to reassure and satisfy them to respond briefly to a portion of the question.

8. Ask questions about the question

A person may ask a difficult question at times because of a deeper problem. Before engaging in a potentially violent exchange, it is helpful to comprehend this individual’s perspective and motives. You can get a better understanding of someone’s motivation and frame of reference by asking the following questions:

  • “Why do you ask?”
  • “Why is that so important to you?”
  • “Why do you feel that way?”
  • “What is informing your opinion on that topic?”
  • “Why do you want to know this answer?”
  • “Do you have any experience in this area?”

A great way to avoid answering, at least for the time being, is to answer a question with a question. You have time to think about it. If done correctly, it will make them try to answer your question and possibly forget what they were asking (it is, at the very least, a good test of their interest and determination).

Despite your best efforts, you probably do not comprehend the question.

  • What makes this so significant to you? Use “why” with care. It may appear to be an accusation.)
  • Why is this important to you?

9. Get the asker’s definition of ambiguous terms

Consider asking someone directly what they mean when they ask you a question. This is especially useful to avoid misunderstandings and clarify terms that are unclear or controversial. Before you respond, you want to know exactly what the other person is thinking so that it is relevant and appropriate. Defining ambiguous terms can be done in a number of ways:

  • “What exactly do you mean by [word]?”
  • “In this context, how are you defining [word]?”
  • “What makes this situation feel [word] to you?”

When something takes too long or costs too much, the person asking the tough question may be upset or anxious. Sullivan suggests that you “give the other person control over the conversation.” You could say, “I know you’re frustrated.” Would it be helpful if I provided some details regarding that?’ He suggests: Because of this, the individual gains control of the conversation and automatically settles down.

Vulnerability is created by asking questions. An employee is curious about how their manager views them.

Inform people that intelligent people ask questions.

  • It takes insight to ask questions like that.
  • That’s a great question.
  • I’m glad you asked.
  • Could you ask that question a different way?
  • Here’s what I hear you asking. Am I on target?

10. Transition to another topic

Think about bridging when you’re faced with a difficult question you don’t want to answer. The process of changing a difficult question into one about which you do want to talk is known as bridging. You could say something like, “That actually reminds me of…” as a polite way to steer the conversation or presentation away from a question that is irrelevant or baiting.

11. Funneling to what you do want to talk about

You can try funneling the conversation, which is similar to bridging. Starting with broad questions and working toward more specific ones is referred to as funneling. This can help you figure out what the other person is worried about. The broad questions get them talking and encourage them to talk more. You can learn about the person’s specific worries or frustrations as the questions become more specific.

Take, for instance, the following sequence of funneling questions:

  • “What do you like most about your job?”
  • “What qualities are most important to you in a coworker?”
  • “Have you ever had a confrontation with a coworker?”
  • “How do you handle workplace conflict?”

12. Allow the other person to direct the conversation

Consider letting the other person direct your response rather than taking charge of a difficult conversation. This may serve as a means for them to address their feelings within themselves rather than projecting them externally if they are feeling emotional or anxious. You might say, for example:

  • “How would you like me to handle this?”
  • “Do you want me to share information about this?”
  • “What are you hoping to gain from this?”

13. Be respectful and courteous

When asked tough questions, you should respond with respect. A tense situation can be lessened by being approachable and friendly. Maintaining a professional and courteous demeanor when interacting with others in a meeting or presentation may assist the other person in doing the same.

14. Avoid emotionally charged responses

Maintaining your composure can be difficult when responding to difficult questions. You want to demonstrate, however, that you are able to maintain your composure and focus in emotionally charged situations, as your response reflects on your character. Here are some ways to respond in a way that limits your emotional response if you’re feeling challenged:

  • Keep your answer short
  • Respond specifically to the question and avoid tangents
  • Use facts to support your answer
  • Move on from the question quickly to redirect your attention

15. Connect with the other person

Make an effort to get to know the person who is asking you a question. Find a way to tie their question to relevant information and demonstrate that you value their inquiry.

Consider, for instance, a meeting in which you are demonstrating a brand-new employee software tool. Someone might become enraged and inquire about the learning time required for this new program. You could say, “I know learning a new program can be overwhelming, but we have scheduled comprehensive training sessions.” 

We are confident that learning this program will make your job much more enjoyable because it resolves many of the department’s concerns regarding the current program. It will assist you in enhancing your productivity, communication, and workflow.”

16. Use humor

In a heated argument, jokingly remarking can help calm things down. When a difficult question comes up in a meeting or presentation, humor can help ease the pressure and give everyone a chance to unwind and reset.

17. Disengage when appropriate

Disengage from the conversation if you think that someone is trying to make you feel uncomfortable or is looking for a challenge. Professional and courteous ways to end a conversation are as follows:

  • “I’d prefer not to discuss this right now.”
  • “That issue is too complicated to discuss at this time.”
  • “Why don’t we move on to another topic?”

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