Small Business Trends Radio

Radio or TV: What Is the One Question The Guest Should NEVER Answer?

If…? If you hear this two letter word, run away. Beware any question that begins with “If…”

This is the First Law in Public Debate known by media savvy professionals: 1) Don’t do Hypotheticals.

If a question or a rebuttal starts with “If” change the subject. If you are thinking “If” change your mind.

I don’t answer hypotheticals, is the only answer to use if “If” comes up.

Even seasoned professionals will make this mistake.

The hypothetical will take everyone down a path that may not be helpful. And can be misleading.

The Journal of Consumer Research published by the University of Chicago Press examined,

…[T]he impact of asking hypothetical questions on respondents’ subsequent decision making. Across several experiments we find that even though such questions are purely hypothetical, respondents are unable to prevent a substantial biasing effect on their behavior. Further, we find that an increase in cognitive elaboration increases the contaminative effects of hypothetical questions and that this increase occurs primarily when the hypothetical information is relevant.

This is academic-talk that says, don’t get started dealing with hypothetical questions. A hostile interviewer (or a combative peer) is only setting a trap.

Even legal beagles warn of the big if,

Do not answer any hypothetical questions unless the question incorporates sufficient facts, circumstances, and conditions to allow a full and fair response. If it does not, just tell the opposing counsel there are not sufficient facts for you to form an opinion and answer under oath.

When you hear an “if – then” question a-coming. Politely duck, segue and answer another question.

For example,

Satanic Gotcha Main Stream Media Reporter Creep: If you stopped beating your wife, then your house would be more quiet, true?

Saintly Small Business Owner Trying to Make a Buck and Make Payroll (in the same week): Let’s not do hypotheticals.(duck) A happy home is the purpose of our business. (Segue) My company’s labor saving, wonder-widgets have reduced the back breaking toil women have suffered for millennia when ironing men’s shirts — we promote domestic tranquility. (Answer the question you wanted asked.)

Remember, mass communication; an interview is not like being in grade school. You don’t always have to answer every question asked.

You can reply with the best message to promote your company in a positive light.

And that is always the right answer about your small business.

2 Responses to “Radio or TV: What Is the One Question The Guest Should NEVER Answer?”

  1. Staci Says:

    “An interview is not like being in grade school. You don’t always have to answer every question asked.”

    That is the best piece of advice always to be remembered. Anyone can ask a question – but not everyone has to answer it.

  2. Melissa Daubert Says:

    Nice article about “if”.
    Good advice. Something to think about before you are trapped in an interview.

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