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17 Nov

Give a swift answer to a tricky question

Datum: 2014-11-17 09:54

At some point in your dai­ly work when attend­ing meet­ings, busi­ness par­ties, sales meet­ings and hav­ing oth­er encoun­ters with new peo­ple, you must also have got­ten a ques­tion that knocked you cold and tied your tongue? At least this hap­pens to me from time to time.

I am sit­ting in a meet­ing. Per­haps I am in the mid­dle of pre­sent­ing my ser­vices and am think­ing to myself that I am doing quite well”.

Just then the poten­tial client I am speak­ing to ask me a ques­tion that gets me out of bal­ance. I am silenced, try to catch my breath again and end up say­ing some­thing which I will lat­er regret and think how could I say that?”.

Through the years I have had quite a large num­ber of meet­ings and every week I meet many peo­ple in dif­fer­ent con­texts and envi­ron­ments. Believe it or not, but even I have been ren­dered speech­less by a ques­tion I have been asked before. Come to think of it, there are more accu­rate­ly a hand­ful of ques­tions which I from time to time find it dif­fi­cult to respond to with a con­crete and dis­tinct answer.

These have for instance been:

  • Do you real­ly live as you learn?
  • What is your ide­al client?
  • Shouldn’t you start edu­cat­ing and cer­ti­fy­ing more struk­törs to expand you busi­ness so that oth­ers can work for you?
  • Could we col­lab­o­rate in some way?
  • What effects do you expect your work with us will have at our company?
  • What is the best price you can give us?
  • Can you do some­thing about the price?
  • Let’s go all around and intro­duce our­selves since some do not know every­one. How about you go first, David?

(Today I am cer­tain of the answers to these ques­tions. If you are curi­ous of my respons­es, e‑mail me!)

You see, these ques­tions are quite pre­dictable. This means that we have good hope of not hes­i­tat­ing the next time we are asked one of them, if we only have a bit of fore­sight now.

Think before you speak
Let us for­mu­late what we want to answer such ques­tions with now in advance and then make sure that this reply is eas­i­ly acces­si­ble when­ev­er we might be asked the ques­tion cor­re­spond­ing to our pre­pared answer.

Prepar­ing in this way pro­vides us with the oppor­tu­ni­ty to give a well-bal­anced response which is unam­bigu­ous and which we after­wards, as we are on our way home and think back on the meet­ing and what we said, will feel com­fort­able with.

Try this

  1. Think about what ques­tions you tend to get some­what fre­quent­ly and which slight­ly throw you off. What ques­tions have this effect on you?

  2. Write them down on a piece of paper or in a dig­i­tal doc­u­ment (such as Word or some oth­er word-pro­cess­ing program).

  3. For every ques­tion, for­mu­late what you would want your response to be if you were giv­en all the time in the world to come up with a good answer. Well? The answer you thought of now was far bet­ter and snap­pi­er than you usu­al­ly come up with on the spot, wouldn’t you say?

  4. Now you only have to make the answers eas­i­ly acces­si­ble. And what is eas­i­er in terms of access than mem­o­riz­ing them? Hence, prac­tice and mem­o­rize the answers until they are ingrained deep in mind and memory.

    This is some­what like mem­o­riz­ing vocab­u­lary, so you can rehearse the answers in sev­er­al dif­fer­ent ways:
    • Write the ques­tions to the left on a sheet of paper and the answers to the right. Cov­er the answers with anoth­er paper and ask your­self the ques­tions. Check each cor­rect response after attempt­ing to answer the question.
    • Get a bunch of index-cards from the office sup­plies store (that is, plain white cards the size of play­ing cards). Write the ques­tion on one side and the response on the oth­er. Pull ran­dom cards from the deck you have just made, read the ques­tion and answer it with­out peeking.
    • Cre­ate vir­tu­al cards in the web­ser­vice qui​zlet​.com and quiz your­self (and yes, you may con­sid­er your­self work­ing as you do this).
    • You know, there is an app for this. I use the Flashcards*-app on my iPhone and if you have an Android you will get a thou­sand hits if you do per­form a search for flash­cards” in Android Market.

  5. When you feel that the answers come nat­u­ral­ly and with­out hes­i­ta­tion, give your­self a pat on the back by reward­ing your­self in a way which pleas­es you.

Speak­ing is sil­ver, but hav­ing a per­fect come­back to a ques­tion is gold
If you no longer have to hes­i­tate when you are asked one of those ques­tions which you pre­dict will come soon­er or lat­er, you will pro­vide an answer you can be proud of. You will get through the crit­i­cal meet­ing with much greater con­fi­dence and will think pos­i­tive thoughts about your­self after it is over rather than how could I say what I did!?”.

What is your method?
How do you pre­pare your­self for what might occur dur­ing impor­tant busi­ness meet­ings? Feel free to leave a com­ment to tell myself and others.