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  • Christine Hourd

3 Steps To Confidently Answer Questions & Improve Your Communication Skills At Work

Updated: Jun 13

In the past, have you urgently responded to a request from your boss, in order to look more valued than your colleagues at a meeting? Or you answer questions from an authority figure quickly to explain your circumstances? That quick response to a question can do you more harm than good. It can take you from looking confident, trustworthy and valuable, to looking desperate, and insecure. By learning how to confidently answer questions you can improve self-esteem at work and be considered a valuable asset.

Why It's Important To Confidently Answer Questions At Work


In the business world, you need to confidently answer questions so that you are viewed as a professional that's intelligent, valuable, and yes, has high self-esteem. Having trust in your thinking and judgement is a necessary soft skill customers and employers look for when they want to trust you. Once you get better at answering questions, you can elevate your worth at the company, gain the respect from your coworkers, and build trust with your customers.


How The Way You Respond Can Improve Self-Esteem


We have all had that moment in elementary school when the teacher is accusing us of doing something wrong. Right? And when she looks down at us with glaring eyes—since back then we were shorter—we'd panic and try to come up with the best answer to get ourselves out of this situation. Meanwhile, the teacher is predicting we'll say, "I didn't do it!"

Now what if, at 10 years old, you paused, thought for a moment and came up with a reasonable and intelligent answer? Most likely you'd still go to the principal's office, but she'd certainly change the way she thought about you. When providing an impulsive answer to a question, this can be taken as dishonest, disrespectful, and/or dismissive. If you take the time to respond, you'll surprise and enlighten the listener. In fact, you'll be more likeable too. This positive experience helps you to improve self-esteem.

How to Reply to a Question and Seem Confident and Valuable

After the question is delivered you're following 3 steps:

  1. Replaying the question or request in your mind

  2. Counting to four

  3. Formulating an answer, or another question for clarity

Here's why these three steps will make you more confident and valued:

  • By replaying the question in your mind you're focusing on what's really being asked. Anything before that may contribute to what they're looking for in an answer, but that can also be filled with brainstorming and/or emotion. When you focus on the question at the very end, you remove all the detail that offers no value, and the question becomes simplified.

  • The mere act of silently counting to four helps you to clear your mind. It lowers your anxiety level from trying to find an answer, and calms you so that you can think clearer and respond more intelligently.

  • Once you're calm and can think clearer, you're able to formulate an answer to the question that'll move the conversation forward. Although, if you're not clear on what the person is requesting, then this is a good time to get clarity and ask a question.

The Impact Of Answering A Question Effectively

When you take the time and pause before answering, you're accessing your creative mind. This promotes exploration and imagination that helps you come up with answers that surprise and enlighten people. It enters the zone of "What if?" People will begin to listen to you, value your opinion, and respect you because you're providing new information, and adding to the conversation, rather than wasting their time.

Automatic or habitual responses come from what's readily available in your mind, and is often information that others expect to hear and already know. Therefore, you offer no value to the conversation.

The next time someone asks you a question, pause. Repeat the question in your head, take a breath, then answer. At first the pause seems very long if you're used to responding quickly, but it won't be to others. Others will see this pause as you considering the question, and that it's valuable enough to take time to think about it. Please share if you found this info valuable. Christine Hourd, ACC is a certified professional success and leadership life coach in Calgary, Alberta. She works with clients online and in person to remove obstacles and create strategies to increase their value at work. Talk to Christine and find out how the Success Mastery Program can help you reach your goals.

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