Advertising
Advertising

Answering Questions Quickly Doesn’t Mean You’re Smarter, Here’s Why

Answering Questions Quickly Doesn’t Mean You’re Smarter, Here’s Why

Do you have a friend that is quick to answer any question fired their way? Sometimes we associate those who answer questions more quickly as being witty and smarter. We may even believe that if we answer questions at a quicker rate we will be perceived as being more intelligent. But often those who answer questions quickly provide inadequate answers and stammer over their responses. Answering questions quickly doesn’t mean you’re smarter, here’s why:

We live in a fast paced society which at times, requires quick-wits and the ability to think fast. We deem those who answer questions in a rapid-fire pace as being smarter and better able to digest new material. However, in a study completed at New York University, a group of psychologists asked volunteers to answer a set of question typed in either an easy to read font or a blurry font. The results concluded the people who had to work harder to read the question answered the question more accurately than those who had an easy to read font.

Advertising

What To Do When You’re Asked A Difficult Question:

We may not think of improvisation immediately when it comes to answering questions quickly, but it is a vital skill. Knowing how to improvise is being able to think on your feet.  It provides us with the ability to answer difficult questions fired our way. When a question is fired our way, we naturally tend to pounce and deliver an answer immediately. In our fast past society, a delayed response may not get us a job during an interview, or seal the deal in a business meeting and so on. But improvisation allows us the ability to buy more time when a difficult question is fired our way.

Effective Ways to Answer Vague or Complex Questions:

When questions are directed at us, they may not always be the clearest. The question itself may be vague or overly complex, leaving you wondering how to answer the question. You can effectively answer vague or overly complex question in the following ways:

Advertising

Repetition of Question.

Simply ask them to repeat the question. It can sound like this: I want to make sure I’m understanding you correctly, would you mind repeating the question? When you make this request it shows that you are interested in the question and that you would like to provide the best answer possible.

Request Clarification.

This works best with vague and overly complex questions. If the question isn’t clear, it is best to respond to the question with another question that prompts the person to clarify query.

Advertising

Be Clear in the Definition.

Specific words can mean several different things to different people. To avoid talking in circles ask the questioner to define specific terms in their inquiry.  For example, if someone asks you:  Why do you thinking shopping is feminine? You can respond by asking them: How do you define feminine? By asking for clear definitions of specific terms in the query you begin to expand upon the real root of the question being fired your way.

Effective Ways to Answer Inappropriate or Provocative Questions:

Unfortunately, we may face questions asked of us that are entirely inappropriate and provocative. The solution is to hedge your response.  Meaning, there are situations where the answer we may provide may not be the answer the questioner seeks.

Advertising

Respond to One Point of the Question.

There may be aspects of the question you do not wish to answer, and that’s more than okay. Focus your response on the aspect that you feel most confident in responding to.

Discuss the Question by Asking a Question.

More than we realize, when someone poses an inappropriate or provocative question, it really isn’t a question at all. Instead, they may seek a discussion about the question itself. You could ask the questioner why they seek the answers to their question or what motivates their interest in the specific subject.

Narrow Down the Question.

Questions that are overly complex can be answered with a response by narrowing down the question by using specific words to direct the questioner’s attention. By narrowing down the question you effectively acknowledge the complex question, but make a verbal acknowledgement of answering only a specific and narrow aspect to the question.

Conclusion:

Although being quick-witted is often desired, it may not lead to the best way to answer a question fired your way. It’s more than okay to not know the answer off the top of your head.  If anything, by using the techniques above, it will allow for you to provide a clear and concise answer rather than blurting out an incomplete answer that lacks thoughtfulness.

More by this author

Tara Massan

Founder of Be Moved, Life Coach and Writer.

Study Finds People With Ambitious Goals Are Happier And More Satisfied Are You Right-Brain Dominant? (7 Right Brain Characteristics) Why Singing In The Shower Can Boost Your Confidence And Health When You’re Made To Feel Unwanted, Leave And Never Turn Back 11 Hidden Signs You’re Highly Empathetic But You May Not Even Notice That

Trending in Communication

1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

Advertising

1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

Advertising

3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

Advertising

It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

Advertising

Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next