HOW TO REPLY – IN THE CORONA TIMES – WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER
Amidst challenging fast-moving situations in the Corona Age, one of the toughest questions for business leaders is often something where you don’t know the exact answer.
It could be:
Will I have to work from home from next month?
Will you still be delivering your products to us on time?
What will happen if everyone in the company gets Coronavirus?
Here’s some initial guidance which we can utilise in MD2MD sessions on “Give Great Answers To Tough Questions” sessions to adapt to your specific circumstances.
STEP 1: When you can’t answer, admit it openly. But also say WHY you can’t answer. In the current environment, when governments often don’t know the answers, there’s probably a perfectly good reason why you don’t have an exact immediate answer to some of your Corona-related questions either – at least at the time the question is asked. Giving this reason can take the pressure off and enable you to appear reasonable.
STEP 2: Go on to say what you’re doing to get the answer if that’s possible. E.g. “Three team members are working on the plan to deal with the type of situation you’re facing and I expect to be able to pass on the answer to you and everyone who needs to know by tomorrow afternoon”. This far better than “Sorry, I haven’t a clue”.
STEP 3: Use the opportunity to get across a helpful message on the topic of the question. If circumstances allow you to convey a POSITIVE message then so much the better. But every question is an opportunity to both answer (or say why you can’t) AND get across your message.
STEP 4: Where appropriate give a real life example to back up your message and leave your questioner – and any wider audience – with a picture in their heads that they can perceive. This makes your answer more realistic and credible.
And if you’re preparing for a moment in the spotlight to talk about the latest Corona situation with regards to your company – whether you’ll be doing it face-to-face, on the phone or online – there’s more guidance on the importance of planning for it here: