5 Methods The Professionals Use To Avoid Hard Questions
As we approach the climax of another 4,000-year presidential campaign, we're seeing a lot more politicians talking nonsense on our televisions, opining in our newspapers, or just shrieking at us from the street. Given Cracked's popularity with the political elite, there's a good chance you're a politician yourself, taking a moment to enjoy our fine site before returning to work on your platform for turning orphans into industrial lubricant or whatever it is your advisers are telling you is polling well in Iowa.
"The tears of puppies will reduce friction and increase economic output by upwards of 6 percent."
And I'd like to help! Get in on the ground floor, as it were -- help you get elected so that you might "scratch my back" in return. I'm being totally literal there. I will insist that you scratch my back.
Yes, I'll make it weird.
One of the biggest problems you're going to face on your journey to greatness are people that ask you questions and expect answers, as if you were somehow responsible for the things you think and believe. Here then, for your evading pleasure, is a list of patented techniques you can use to answer these questions without in any way revealing the monster you truly are.
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Stall
Dodging a question involves a lot of thinking on your feet -- or on your ass or while shackled to a wall or whatever, depending on the layout of the debate / court / interrogation chamber you find yourself in. That will be a lot easier if you have more time to think, so the first thing you can do is simply stall.
"I'm sorry, can you repeat the question? I didn't hear."
"Take your hands off your ears."
So go ahead and ask them to repeat the question, or clarify any details. Define terms with them. What constitutes "gross" negligence? Is it "gross" as in "large," or as in "disgusting"? Both? Nice. Well done.
Another good trick is to answer a question with a question. "Why do you ask that?" or "Is that issue something that concerns you?" Anything which can make your questioner drop the difficult question and come up with a new one which might be easier to answer. If you get really good at this, you can eventually turn an interview into a conversation. The natural back-and-forth of a conversation can help blur the lines between question and response, making it harder for the other party to realize that you're not actually saying anything of substance. Even if that doesn't work, you'll have bought yourself a little bit of time.
And if all else fails, you can always go down clutching your leg.
Answer A Similar But Unrelated Question
So let's say you've feigned all the injuries and hemmed all the haws.
WHAT'S THAT BEHIND YOU RIGHT NOW?
You're out of time and definitely are going to have to answer their question now. Except no. No, you're not. You just have to answer some question right now. One study has found that people don't seem to notice if you answer a question that's different but still similar to the one actually asked. If someone asks you what you think about global warming, you can answer with something about the environment, or even the economy, and people won't notice. As the response drags on, we forget how things began, and tend to assume that the speaker is still answering the question asked.
Obviously, this will be easier with big, subjective questions. You won't be able to get away with this if someone asks you something specific. It also doesn't work if you say something totally unrelated to the question asked. That is noticeable, and makes you look evasive.
"And that's why the best starter Pokemon is Squirtle."
"That was exhaustive and convincing, but counsel was asking about the night of the murder."
Whatever You Say, Answer Honestly(-Sounding)
A lot of this is less about answering clearly and more about answering in a way that doesn't seem untrustworthy. If you don't have a rational, coherent argument as to why people should like you, then you'll just have to fake it. Sure, you could do that by answering the question honestly, but there are a whole bunch of extra ways to make people like you as well.
"Where were you on the night of the mur-- Oh neat, grape! Thanks!"
One of the simplest ways to sound trustworthy is to quote facts and figures. You can confidently throw around numbers, since no one's going to have the time to verify all of them on the spot. They'll simply get the impression that you know what you're talking about.
"28.2 PERCENT! DEFICIT! SEVEN OVER THREE. FRACTIONS! PARTIAL ERECTIONS. USA! USA! USA!
Similarly, try to avoid cliches, or anything which sets off people's bullshit detectors. Thanking someone for asking a question or saying that you care about their personal situation sounds like something a politician would say. Anecdotes about yourself also smell a little bit, but are far safer. You can't be lying if you're talking about yourself, right? And a long-winded anecdote with a tidy little moral at the end can make everyone forget what the question was in the first place. Maybe plan those anecdotes out in advance, though, to make sure they actually have those tidy little morals. You don't want to get halfway through your cow-fighting story before realizing that it doesn't make you look as good as you felt doing it.
Or you can approach the trustworthiness issue from another angle, and ...
Attack The Questioner
If you're in a situation in which someone is questioning you aggressively in front of an audience, the audience will sense the adversarial nature of the interview and begin mentally chanting, "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!" Unless they're really paying attention, they'll care less about what either party actually says and more about who seems to be winning. It can become a popularity contest, and if you can get the audience to doubt the validity of the question or the person asking it, then they won't remember that you didn't answer it.
"I refuse to answer any questions from a mole person."
This is a standard play in politics, where the audience is already naturally wary of the media or other politicians. But it's less useful in other settings. If you're in a one-on-one interview, there's not much use for it; you're hardly going to convince your interlocutor that he's a dick. And in something like a courtroom setting, it's also probably not advisable.
"Counsel, is what this witness says true? Are you a mole person? Do you worship at the foot of Molord?"
You don't even have to be that aggressive in challenging the questioner. No need to leap on the podium and flex. Simply saying "That's a loaded question" or "You're trying to trick me," even if that's bullshit, forces them to defend their question. And it distracts anyone listening. They're now much more likely to remember that you two had an argument, rather than that you avoided answering a question.
Speaking of distractions ...
Jump On The Podium And Flex
There's no audience alive that prefers the sound of boring words to the sight of great deeds being done. If a question stumps you, then lift something over your head like a strongman and break it over your knee.
Then hit the ground, clutching your leg.
Reduce a chair to splinters, tear down some curtains, hurl great oaths at the sky. Light a fire. Make animals fuck. Sure, this might make you look a little unhinged and not quite like the sober statesman you want to appear to be. But that can be preferable to looking evasive or untrustworthy. And few will remember even that after seeing two sheep make such tender love.
"This court finds that a beautiful act, and the defendant to be Rad as Shit."
Politics 101 is avoiding difficult questions. Politics 102 is stealing Jimmy Carter's debate notes and trouncing him with them, like Ronald Reagan did in 5 Insane Strategies That Won Elections (And Changed History). Was it worth it, though? Being president means getting the worst hazing of your life, as seen in 15 Things They Don't Tell You About Being President.
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