How to answer a question without answering the question

Technically speaking, I am niStock_000002055725Mediumot sure how admirable a communication skill it is to be able to confidently answer a question without actually answering the question. This is something politicians are frequently accused of  – just take a look at the infamous Jeremy Paxman / Michael Howard interview for a prime example. However, even those of us who are not politicians sometimes find it necessary to avoid giving a direct answer. One way to do this of course, is to counter with a question of your own. This works but should only be attempted once or twice in succession. Probably the best way is to open up the question and build a bridge to an answer that you do feel comfortable with. When asked if you think a particular plan is too expensive, you could respond by saying something like  “The essential question is not how much the plan costs is but the benefits that it will bring.” You can prepare for difficult questions in advance by thinking about what you DO want to say and knowing your key messages. Leave out any negative implications contained in the question and start your answer with a phrase that allows you to bring in some positive content or to refocus the attention in the direction of one of your key messages.

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