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How to Answer Tough Questions and Keep Your Blissipline

Written by: Lisa Bonner, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Everyone faces tricky questions sometimes. How do you respond to a left-field interview question without hurting your chances of getting hired? How do you handle a difficult conversation with a co-worker or supervisor and maintain your professionalism?

No matter your position or with whom you’re talking, it’s important to keep your cool.

Here’s some advice to tackle some of those tough questions.


Listen Carefully


Know that it’s about them, not you. Think about and find out what their intention really is. Remember to watch for tone and body language – remember, 93% of communication is nonverbal.


Tune in to your Fight/Flight/Freeze response. This can directly impact how you acknowledge the question. Reframe your response as an opportunity to demonstrate who you are.


Ask Questions


Ask questions to learn more and better understand the other person’s viewpoint. Saying “tell me more” or “help me understand” can open pathways to a deeper conversation.


Don’t get defensive. Instead, focus on the problem, not the person. Ask open-ended questions to find out what they’re looking for. Your only perspective should be to solve the problem.


Don’t take it personally. It’s simply a question, so don’t read more into it than that. Remember to see the good in the other person.


Stay Calm


Adjust your response based on the temperature of your relationship. Your response to a superior or new acquaintance will be different from a trusted peer or close friend. Flex your style to meet the other person halfway and establish common ground.


Your manner and tone should be positive and empowering. Avoid taking a defensive stance, driving home a point, or displaying negative emotions.


Count to 10 if you have to. Don’t jump in to close a silent gap – that’s a common trap to get you to say anything. Choose your words carefully.


Be Diplomatic But Direct


Think about the long-term relationship. Avoid burning bridges you may need later. Don’t be wishy-washy and try to couch your words, so they lose meaning. Don’t apologize if you don’t need to. Instead, be confident and clear in your communication.


If the conversation becomes heated or upsetting, disengage and gather your thoughts. Set up a time to pick up the conversation again once tempers have calmed. This is another human being. In the end, the essentials conveyed in your answer reveal your values and character.


Be Honest


Look the other person in the eye. Be true to yourself because pretending and lying will hurt your self-esteem and confidence in the end. And remember, people can smell horse shit a mile away. Don’t be a doormat. Stand up for your values.


Use the PICKLE™ Strategy


When you receive a question that seems to come from left field or one that appears pointless, stop and take a moment to consider the PICKLE.


P – Pause and gather yourself before responding.

I – It does not matter why they asked the question.

C – Control your emotions – no eye-rolling or frustrated sighs.

K – Keep in mind that this is a team member.

L – Let go of any attitudes or annoyances, and respond in a professional, courteous and Blissiplined manner.

E – Express your answer with honesty and civility, no matter how silly the question.

Use this strategy to move you forward and past the PICKLE.


For more info, follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and visit my website!

Lisa Bonner, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Lisa Bonner is THE Blissiplined Coach. She is a business mental health coach (MHP, MNLP, CBT, Business Coach) and creator of #GetBlissiplined. Lisa has more than 20 years actively teaching Executives, Human Resources, Managers, and Owners how to be blissiplined: "controlled or possessing extreme happiness; spiritual joy"! Through her casual, non-corporate, no-nonsense approach to coaching, Lisa teaches you how to create workforces they and their employees love, achieve goals, and live & work a life of perpetual positive success. Lisa's bliss is found in cheesecake, her rescue dog and cat, and everyday acts of kindness.

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