I was on the West Coast last week, meeting with several clients off the 101. At dinner one night, a client asked me to help him with some anxiety he experienced when he faced difficult questions in meetings or other settings. He wondered if it had anything to do with EQ. I asked him why he thought he had to answer every question that was asked of him. The pause lasted about five minutes.
Figuring out the right answer to a question in front of many people or important people can indeed be cause for anxiety. So, in lieu of sustaining the pressure of formulating an answer, consider asking more questions. My client said that he thought that asking questions has become a lost art… because of the fear of not answering a question. But answering a question with another question is a perfectly plausible response. It can buy you invaluable time to craft a response, and in some cases, shift the anxiety back to the questioner.
This week, for each hour at work or home, I’d like to ask you to ask one more question than you normally would. At the end of a meeting, ask someone what they’re doing over the weekend. Pick a question that is asked of you and instead of hurrying to come up with the answer, think of what you can ask back related to the original question. See how many times that rebuttal question leads you to a much better answer than you originally would have come up with.