Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How to dodge questions

Update (2006-07-12): I do not endorse this technique. I hate it (see the "It simply drives me nuts" bit). I am merely documenting it to expose those people who use it.

This is what I call the "CSI" (not the TV show) technique - Change, Stall, Intimidate:

First, change the topic: "I think that's a very good question. It certainly raises some interesting issues related to what I said before."

Second, stall by talking about what you said before, for about 2 minutes.

Third, intimidate the person who posed the question by asking "Does that answer your question?" By this time, the audience is so bored that that person will not have the guts to pursure further questioning, in order to save the audience from listening to junk for another 2 minutes. However, if that person is somehow not discouraged and persists, say "Now as I said before" and repeat the "stall" step. Alternatively, s/he would have forgotten his/her original question by now.

It simply drives me nuts when I'm in a meeting and the speaker uses this technique when they clearly have no clue (I'll blog on other techniques used to say nothing, some other day). But from what I can see, this works like a charm. And now you know how to do it and sound intelligent too - great for those "strategic" business meetings that we all inevitably find ourselves in.

12 comments:

jayKayEss said...

Also great for when your brother helps you throw an election and you suddenly find yourself leader of the free world!

Clarence Dang said...

Only, that person I believe you are referring to, reads books upside down and uses binoculars with the lens caps on so no amount of question dodging will save him :)

Anonymous said...

I saw this technique used in a strategic business meeting today and it pissed me off. Do you have any tips for how to ask questions so this technique looks as bad as it is?

Martindale said...

Both of which are bad photochops... c'mon now, there are better things to pick on him about.

Like his cocaine habit.

Anonymous said...

Don't accept this behavior. There sure is a "different" type of person, one who is enlightened and not intimidated and it matters what the topic to see if that's true in your victim. If you catch them on computers or something you may be able to use the mystique against them. It applies to understanding women as well. It's so mysterious that you can avoid answering or give vague answers and make them seem satisfying because most people are not experts enough to argue even though they may know you are offering nothing to them.

pb said...

You can combat this by interrupting the person once you realize they are dodging the question.

Apologize that you are interrupting them, and ask that they answer the question instead of dodging it. You intimidate them before they have the chance to do it to you.

Anonymous said...

Another technique is to say I dare you ask that question at the risk of jeopardizing national security, you traitor you.

Anonymous said...

Oh poor little libs. Still whinning about the election. How adorable. I'll be right back so I can get some Pampers.

Vikram said...

Some illustrative examples would have definetly improved the quality of this discussion.....

Clarence Dang said...

anonymous1: I have so far failed to combat this technique. At the moment, I can only smile when I see someone using it because it's just so shallow.

pb: They may reply by restating what they've said before, but in different words until you give up. Or the question dodger will use "I appreciate your point of view but".

anonymous3: Gotta love how some people use the national security banner...

Kelly said...

I love the CSI name...I have been calling this technique: "Politic Replies" or "PR"...."CSI" is much better.

And, yes, it stinks.zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Possible Combats:
*eyerolls* *bored listener* *big sighs* *big stretches* *slouch* *more eyerolls* *face grimics* *the fake picking lint off clothing move* *the coughing fit*
Then, the big loud "I can talk over any voice on the planet and will" NOW, can I get you to give me a YES OR NO to this question...JUST a yes or no....Sir, JUST A YES OR NO....SIR...EXCUSE ME....I see you are dodging....YES OR NO....Okay...I see you choose not to respond and I'll take that as a NO... *get out notebook and scribble with squinty eyes*

Peter Ramsden said...

I have no doubts that the above CSI technique works but I am not sure if users of the technique will win too many friends.

Here is one of my tips to handle tough questions post presentations.

http://www.paramountlearning.co.uk/2010/02/18/presentation-skills-handling-tough-questions/