“Dad, where do babies come from?”
Didn’t see that one coming from my 7-year-old.
You can be the smartest, most experienced leader, and still be caught off-guard with questions.
“When am I getting promoted?” “Why does my project get axed?” “What idiot made that decision?”
Here are three tips to help with these unexpected moments:
1. Appreciate The Question. People depend on your clarity and direction, and questions – even those you don’t anticipate or even like – are indicators of engagement, comfort and trust. So if you feel defensive or anxious, first acknowledge that questions are positive, and start by thanking the person.
2. Take Your Time. Prioritizing response speed over accuracy will cause more harm than help, and ruin your credibility. Drop the expectation of immediacy, instead committing to getting back to the questioner with a well-informed response when you’re ready.
3. Be Honest. Sharing what you know, as well as what you don’t know sounds intimidating, but it demonstrates confidence, humility and authenticity. While not entirely informative, you’ll gain respect for being real and transparent.
Still want to know where babies come from? I’ll have to get back to you... :)