Top 7 Hacks for Leaders to Answer Difficult Questions – Diana Clark

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Being a leader you probably have a large staff of employees who you’re responsible for. Naturally, you know that it’s obligatory to listen to each of your subordinates because their opinions are necessary for the success of the company.

Managers and leaders often have to answer various questions of their employees about their responsibilities and the principles according to which the company operates.

However, there are times when managers have to face difficult questions to which they have no ready answer. What should you do as a leader in this case? Is there any algorithm to answer difficult questions right? Here are 7 hacks for you as a leader to answer difficult questions.

Hack #1: Ask to Be More Specific

For sure, if you want to give a definite response, ask for specific questions. Specific questions require answers with compelling evidence and arguments to prove the point. So if someone asks you a rather vague and abstract question, don’t be afraid to ask for specific details.

Often you’ll require a description of a situation that has led to this very question. Ask your employee to provide you with more specific information and then try to answer the question. First, you’ve got to puzzle out the situation.

Hack #2: Win Yourself More Time

As a leader, you have no right to undermine your authority by hesitating and humming. But it’s OK to show some confidence and ask for more time to find a better answer. Say something like “I appreciate your question. I will do anything I can to help you, but to do it even better I would need more time to do some research. I’ll contact you as soon as I find an answer”. Be polite and respective.

This is a technique used by people who have to work with huge client databases, like professional essay writers, who often deal with difficult questions that are sometimes impossible to answer right away. Use your authority and research skills to find the solution for a particular issue.

Hack #3: Ask For a Definition

The meaning of a particular word is often associated with a situation it’s used in. So if an employee comes to you with a question like “My supervisor is very incompetent. What can you do with that?” you may need to ask for a definition or the expanded explanation of a word “incompetent” in this case. Does it mean a supervisor cannot deal with his responsibilities or treats an employee in an inappropriate way?

In order to get your employees to work with you better, you should show some interest in what bothers them. Help your employees work in a better environment their performance will definitely get better.

Hack #4: Be Impartial

Fair leaders are always impartial. Passing the blame on someone else isn’t a quality of a true leader. So if an employee comes to you with the same question “Why is my supervisor so incompetent?” you shouldn’t pass the blame on the employee saying that the supervisor knows better.

In order to be impartial, you’ll need to listen to both parties of an assumed conflict. And to make the right decision, you’ll have to evaluate the situation using your common sense. And remember that your decision should be right for the future of your company and employees.

Hack #5: Don’t Get Defensive

As a leader, you don’t want unnecessary conflicts among your staff members. Moreover, you wouldn’t want a conflict between you and your employee.

Of course, conflict may be a good thing if it’s not destructive. And you can create a destructive conflict if you get defensive answering a question. Responses like “Why are you constantly unsatisfied?” or “We gave you an excellent work environment and a well-paid job, what else do you want?” will immediately kill your authority.

Think about it: if an employee comes to you with an issue, then your work environment is not as perfect as it seems. As a leader, you’ll have to deal with it.

Hack #6: Don’t Turn Your Answer into A Narration

Admit it: no one likes lecturing. If an employee comes to you seeking a concrete answer for a specific question, there’s no need to load your answer with unnecessary information.

Giving short, logically structured answers that are clear and specific is always the best option. Stick to it.

Hack #7: Handling Unnecessary Questions

There are times when employees try to create a conflict themselves by asking provocative questions. They create unnecessary tension and lead to destructive conflicts among staff members, causing division and misunderstanding.

The best way out of this is to remain calm and honest. Try to carefully unmask the creator of the conflict by asking back “Is there an issue that bothers you so much that you’re trying to provoke me? Let’s work on it together”. Remaining confident and possessed is a quality of a true leader.


Answering difficult questions is something that every leader has to go through. But as long as you do it with confidence, your success is guaranteed.

Diana Clark once gave up her educator career for something she always dreamed about – writing.

Diana is a freelance writer at Awriter. She discovers the world of digital nomads and believes that some day people will become location independent. Feel free to follow Diana on Twitter.