Like children, dogs, and nomads, minds tend to wander. And they often decide to wander at inopportune times – such as during that 4:30 meeting on the Friday before a long weekend. Related: Overworked? 5 Ways To Avoid Job Burnout There you are in your Aloha shirt standing over a grill full of sizzling beef patties, hand wrapped around an icy bottle (or whatever your long weekend fantasy might be)… And then, BOOM, you hear your name, then a question – and your wandering mind is yanked through space and time back to the present. Back to the conference room. They’re all looking at you. And they want an answer. You’ve been caught daydreaming at work. So, what do you do?
1. StallWhen a question comes your way and you haven’t been paying attention, don’t understand it, or just don’t have a response on the tip of your tongue, buy yourself some time by restating the question, suggests Christina Zila, president of the VYP Toastmasters. “Adding a neutral observation,” Zila continues, “like, ‘that’s a really interesting question’ also helps free your brain to concentrate on the question at hand.” Allow us to add: If you choose to stall by restating the question, restate it in such a way that makes it appear as though you’re trying to get clarification in order to provide a better answer. Avoid the following type of exchange: Boss: “So, valued employee, what do you think about the suggestion that we incubate front-end supply chains?” You: “Uh… what do I think about the suggestion that we incubate front-end supply chains?”
2. Play Hot PotatoIf you stalled but still can’t come up with something to say, try lobbing the question back at the person who asked it, says Zila. She suggests something along these lines:
- Why is that important to you?
- That’s a unique perspective.
- How did you come to that idea?