5 Ways to Answer a Question with a Question.
Ever have a conversation with someone on a neutral topic and then before you can say, "nice to see you," find yourself in a heated argument with that person? Ever feel like you can't win with certain people? Do you have a tough time interacting or conversing with some people to the point that you are afraid to even start?
And you end up apologizingfor something that you don't really need to apologize for... since you are so intimidated by all the provocative questioning.
Questioning the Questioner
Using the Coping Technique
Use this coping technique whenever you sense that the person is not out to seek the truth from you, but is bent on challenging you. Trust your instinct. If you sense that the person is truthful, and simply curious, then answer the question or just let it go. Do not stress out over the interaction.
However, if the experience of being questioned feels uncomfortable, respond with a coping mechanism or technique - a question back to them.
Use this method when you sense that there is no correct answer to the question.
Use this coping technique when you just know that no matter what you say, you will never win.
Use this coping technique when even saying "I don't know," won't work with the challenger.
Challenger: What in the world are you doing wearing those boots today?
Wrong Answer: Actually I bought them at Nordstroms, and got them on sale. I'm sorry you don't like them.
Boing, Boing! Wrong!
Correct Answer: Wow - are you trying to tell me that you like them?
Challenger: Why are you hanging around with those good-for-nothing people?
Wrong Answer: I like them, so please don't tell me what to do.
Clang! Clang! Wrong!
Correct Answer: And you're asking me that because....?
Well, here's a communication technique that I actually learned from my husband: answering a loaded question with a question. Yes, this art of asking questions, a communication technique, when used during challenging conversations, works every time. It will help you handle difficult questions.
However, this technique takes a certain amount of art, skill and practice. I, for one, have not mastered the art of this questioning communication technique. However, with my husband's mentoring, I have improved in this regard. And by using it, I have stopped an antagonistic dialogue in its tracks. I have really learned to deal with difficult people who ask challenging questions.
Consider the following conversation between a challenging person and a responding person:
Challenger: So - tell me what is the key thesis of your new bestseller?
Wrong Answer: Um, um...let's see. My key thesis is "to thine own self be true."
BEEP! BEEP! WRONG!
Correct Technique: Tell me, Sir, what is the key thesis of Hamlet?
Chances are the person will back down because he is not interested in discussing Shakespeare.
Challenger: So - do you think that maybe you are too aggressive in the way you are handling that situation?
Wrong Technique: Actually, I think I'm doing the best I can do, and most people approve of my actions.
BEEP BEEP - WRONG!
Correct Answer: Wow-- Is that how you view it?
Chances are the person will back down once you put the ball in his court through questioning.
Challenger: Are you serious? Are you going to do that stupid thing again?
Wrong Answer: No way, I'm surprised you have that little faith in me.
BOING, BOING...--- WRONG!
Correct Answer: Why? Would you like me to do it that way now?
Chances are Mr. Challenger will back down after hearing this question as well - he sees that you are riding the wave with him - and not fighting him.
And if by chance the person is sincere, and not really meaning to be challenging or intrusive, he will seek the truth and be more clear in his communication. He won't have to resort to difficult and vague questions.
The trick in all these examples is to smile when asking the question to the challenger. Make sure you are calm, cool and collected. Don't defend, don't engage and don't ever argue with an intrusive person.
Don't get into it with these people. Think of yourself as a lawyer, and maintain your composure. Do not be tempted to engage the person or argue with him. That will be the wrong answer. Go for the question --- a question coming back at him (or her).
Just respond to their difficult question with a question of your own!