What Would You Say? Part 2

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Busy street scene with people using umbrellas.

What Would You Say? Part 2

In the Engage section of this resource, we gave you a toolkit of techniques for dealing with difficult questions. In this activity, you’ll be presented with questions that will require you to rely on those techniques. Depending on the question, some techniques will have better results than others.
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caseID: cIntro

Each character will present a different scenario and question. Select a character to practice answering difficult questions. Feel free to try different responses and explore the results.

go to case 3 Older woman button
go to case 4 Middle aged man button
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Remember, these are just a few techniques you can use and they won’t always work. You’ll have to adapt in real time and adjust your approach accordingly.

caseID: c1
A colleague has invited you and another coworker over for dinner. While you are sitting down to eat, the matriarch of the family turns to you.
Older woman
Why do adult men and women live together? Why don’t they just get married?

How can you best answer this question?

  • Well, like you, we deeply value our relationships. Sometimes people want to see if they get along in the same space before getting married, avoiding any premature decisions.
  • The economic benefits of cohabitation can really improve your lifestyle. It just makes more sense sometimes.
  • That’s a good question! I’m not sure when that became so prevalent, but it does seem to happen more and more.
With this response, you’ve chosen to relate to and emphasize a shared cultural value. Doing so has allowed you to make a connection around how you both value relationships, and she appears to appreciate this answer.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

With this response, you’ve chosen to reframe the question. The question was focused on values, but you’ve shifted your answer to focus on the practicality of cohabitation. In this case, this technique comes across as noticeably dodging the question, and she doesn’t seem pleased.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

With this response, you’ve chosen to admit you are unsure of the answer. By acknowledging that she asked a “good question,” you’ve demonstrated that you respect her question and where she is coming from. This makes it easier to avoid getting into a debate, and she doesn’t push any further.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

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caseID: c2
You are at a neighbor’s house, when the topic of discussion turns to politics in the United States.
Middle aged man
Why does the U.S. government allow women to have abortions?

How can you best answer this question?

  • This dates back to the landmark case of Roe v. Wade. It was a decision made by the courts and it stands as the law of the land.
  • That’s a complicated question. What are the views on abortion in this country?
  • Like you, we value our independence, and this decision gives women the right to choose. It’s not something that anyone takes lightly.
With this response, you’ve chosen to use examples from American history. Since this is a very divisive topic, using history detaches you from the matter and you avoid taking a stance either way.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

With this response, you’ve chosen to ask a follow-up question. Due to the nature of the question you probably want to avoid getting into a pointed debate. By using this technique, you’ve taken the pressure off of yourself and allowed him to share his views on the topic.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

With this response, you’ve chosen to relate to and emphasize a shared cultural value. Doing so highlights how both of you value being able to make your own choices, but due to the divisive nature of this question, he doesn’t seem sold. With a question like this, be prepared to have a longer dialogue, or find a way to disengage.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

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caseID: c3
You are at a café with a friend when the news cuts to U.S. election coverage.
Older man
Why do American presidential candidates spend so much money on elections when so many people are unemployed?

How can you best answer this question?

  • Our elections are critical to our democracy. Without the amount of hard work from the candidates and scrutiny from the public, our democracy would not be the same.
  • You’re right, a lot of money is spent on elections. The ideal of equality does resonate strongly with most U.S. citizens, though, and it represents goals and results to work toward.
  • If you look at it historically, the candidates that spend the most money have a higher chance of winning. It’s not a guarantee, but it helps.
With this response, you’ve chosen to redefine the question and focus on the importance of elections to democracy. This serves as a way to avoid the topic, but he notices your tactic and doesn’t seem too pleased. You’ll have to be judicious when using this technique.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

With this response, you’ve chosen to pivot to the future. By admitting that a lot of money is spent you’re briefly siding with the questioner and relieving tension. You then resolve the question by looking to the future and discussing the goals you hope your country can work toward. He seems pleased with this answer.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

With this response, you’ve chosen to use an example from American history. This allows you to distance your own personal view from the topic and discuss factual evidence. He seems interested in this and follows up with questions about past campaigns.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

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caseID: c4
One of your new coworkers has continually expressed interest in American culture. During a break, you are discussing movies with her and the conversation takes a turn.
Young woman
Why are guns glorified in certain areas of popular culture like music and video games?

How can you best answer this question?

  • Oh, well, the music and video game industry is huge in in the United States. I think it’s remarkable how popular our products are all over the world.
  • Guns are certainly engrained in our culture, dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War. During that time, Americans formed militias and needed guns to defend our country. This ideal seems to have stuck with us.
  • It’s interesting to see your view on this, because it’s definitely a stereotype that has some truth to it. I’m not sure I can really explain it, but those industries do seem to sell what works.
With this response, you’ve chosen to reframe the question. In this context, it appears that you are dodging the question and she doesn’t appear pleased with this.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

With this response, you’ve chosen to use examples from American history. This is a safe tactic in this case and it allows you to direct the conversation to points in the past, rather than dwell on a touchy topic that could lead the conversation into more difficult territory.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

With this response, you’ve chosen to address a stereotype and admit you are unsure of the answer. Acknowledging the stereotype gives some validity to the questioner’s viewpoint, which makes it easier to admit you don’t have an answer, taking pressure off of you to discuss it at length. She continues to share her point of view and you have a good dialogue.

To review the Difficult Questions toolkit, and other tips on how to answer difficult questions, review section 04 – Engage: Get Out There.

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