Let it simmer, think about it and analyze the options.
We all know the drill, we arrive to a meeting, maybe a meeting without an agenda and someone drops a bomb, a difficult question is thrown right at you and you are left frozen as a deer in the middle of the road, until you explode.
It’s in moments like these that our rational brain is highjacked by our primitive one and your killer instinct takes charge to react to the attack and protect you.
Problem is, if we don’t take chargeback, more often than not, the reaction ain’t a positive one and we dig ourselves into a hole, and from this hole is going to be difficult to climb back right before we bring other people down with us, especially those that had nothing to do with the original question in the first place.
Reacting and taking things personally takes the whole argument away from what is important and places the focus on the defense.
A potential alternative could be to acknowledge the question, paraphrase it to make sure you are getting right, reflect and then come back with an answer that focuses on the core of the matter. Sometimes those answers can’t be answered on the spot and you will need to take them offline, sometimes you can or need to, so reflect on the spot and provide guidance.
But remember: the question it’s probably not an attack on you! and, if it is, just deflect it to what it should be about and chill out.
If you are part of an organization where everyone is aligned in what needs to get done, chances are these questions arise from valid concerns, more often than not, they are centered in communication gaps and they look for clarification. If we default to defense, those gaps will only grow, making the matter even more difficult to resolve.
Just as we put a tone to other people’s words when we read them, we put intention to other people’s questions when we heard them and sometimes we might get them wrong.
Approaching obstacles always with a positive mindset means that you can put the right context to the situations, and with them as a frame of mind, be able to react swiftly in a way that constructs rather than deducts.
Managing through complex situations is an innate part of our modern work, and having the resilience to know how to act in those situations is key not only to reach our objectives but to build a community around us.