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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Tara Massan

Founder of Be Moved, Life Coach and Writer.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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