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June 26, 2024 4 mins

How to give gracious answers to awkward questions

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio. Good Morning,
This is Laura. Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast. Today's
tip is that if someone asks you a question you
don't really want to answer, you can pivot gently, take

(00:25):
the conversation in a different direction, and it is quite
possible the person won't even notice what just happened. So
we have all been asked awkward questions. Sometimes those questions
are about personal topics and they're asked by people we're
not really that close to. Or sometimes the questions are

(00:47):
about heavy subjects at moments when we just don't want
to go there. But the good news is that you
don't face a stark choice between talking about something painful
or being rude. There is another approach, which is realizing
that you are engaged in a conversation and not an interrogation.

(01:10):
You can respond in the spirit of the question without
answering it, literally pivot to take the conversation in a
different direction about a related topic, perhaps that you are
comfortable addressing. So if a work friend asks what you
did over the weekend and you don't really want to

(01:32):
talk about the sadness of helping a friend move her
mom into assisted living. You could say you are looking
forward to going to your new book club that meets
for the first time on Monday. You finished the book
over the weekend. Has your colleague read it? If you
liked Outlander, you will totally like this book. Or if
someone asks you how things are going at work and

(01:53):
you've just given your notice but your boss has asked
you not to share that news and till there's a
plan for finding your successor you can breeze past the
question with oh, works fine, but I wasn't there last
week because I was in Massachusetts visiting old friends, and
then you can launch into the highlights of your trip.
What this approach recognizes is that people are generally asking

(02:16):
you questions not because they are nosy and not because
they are on a fact finding mission. They may not
even be all that curious about the topic they asked
you about. They just want to express interest in your
life and connect. So if a topic comes up that
you don't want to talk about, just honor the interest

(02:37):
in connecting and take it somewhere that you would like
to go. Folks who have had media training may recognize
this technique years ago. When I was first learning how
to answer interview questions for television and radio. I was
told that you can pivot from the question they asked

(02:58):
to the one you want to answer, Just give a
brief sentence on what they've said, and then you can
go to But you know, the real issue here is
or that's certainly an issue. But what I've found most
exciting is I once witnessed a gentleman running for Congress
do this again and again, any hot button issue zipped

(03:18):
past on his mission to talk about securing federal funding
for a local infrastructure project. I am sure that is
what his campaign staff told him did best in focus groups,
and so that is what he was going to talk about.
Since I have been on the other side of such interviews,
I can tell you this is occasionally annoying in a

(03:39):
journalistic context, Sir, can you please answer my question? But
in most social situations, people just want to connect. They
may not win the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting or
something like that, but that is not what they were
aiming for. It will all be fine in the meantime.

(04:03):
This is Laura. Thanks for listening, and here's to making
the most of our time. Thanks for listening to Before Breakfast.
If you've got questions, ideas, or feedback, you can reach
me at Laura at Laura vandercam dot com. Before Breakfast

(04:32):
is a production of iHeartMedia. For more podcasts from iHeartMedia,
please visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you
listen to your favorite shows.

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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