How many times have you been in a situation where a boss, subordinate, client, or maybe even a reporter asks you a question you don’t want to answer?

The knee-jerk response is to get defensive and say something like, “I have no comment.” Or “I’m just not going to talk about it.”

When you respond this way, you create an impression that you have something to hide or that you have dismissed them and therefore disrespected them.

There are lots of ways you can tell people you aren’t going to talk about something.

One of the best ways is to simply tell the truth and own up to the circumstances that prevent you from addressing the question.

Maybe you are uncomfortable with the subject.

Maybe it is too early in the situation to render an opinion or share information.

Or maybe it’s just something that you can never share and that is your right.  Just because someone asks, doesn’t mean you owe them an answer.

Once, when a reporter asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld a question he didn’t want to answer, he quipped, “I know but I am not going to tell you.”  He could have lied and said he didn’t know. Instead, he was honest. but he also revealed nothing.  It did the job.

The point is to stay calm, never lie, show respect for the question and questioner and stay mum when you have to.

How do you dance around questions you don’t want to or can’t answer?