Masterful Communication: Answering Questions Like a Leader

Leadership is a people business. Conversation, dialogue, discussions, disagreements, and agreements are what move the business of people. Trust is what keeps that movement going in a positive and sustainable direction. There are four general methods for how people impact trust based on how they answer questions and deal with situations. Recognizing and understanding how and why each are different is a critical leadership skill (as well as knowing which to use and which not to use based on the situation!)

1. Answer honestly - Because it is the best course of action and you trust the other person to effectively take good truth, as well as not-so-good truth.

2. Answer guardly - Because you are being sensitive to the current situation's needs. There is not misinformation given here. There is just information given in a selective manner when you know giving all the information at that particular time and place will not be in the best of interest of you or the person asking the question. Trust is at risk here, but the threat level is low.

3. Answer politically - Because you are being sensitive to the current and other directly and/ indirectly connected situations' needs. This is very similar to two, except this situation is more complex with more moving parts. Clarity statements briefly and simply explaining why certain things can't be said are critical. This is because you will have to hold more information back than normally and sometimes that is on a recognizable level. You don't want to break trust, but you also want to protect relationships.

4. Answer dishonestly - Because you are not concerned with maintaining or building trust within the current and/or connected situations. Very rarely do highly effective leaders, who are trustworthy, have to resort to number four.

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