You don’t have to be an oracle when it comes to answering people’s questions on the job. Just give each inquiry—whether from a boss, co-worker, or client—your best reply. Follow these tips for giving your expertise each time:
- Make sure you understand the question. Miscommunication often occurs when you don’t pay close attention to what is being discussed. Make sure you understand what you’re being asked, and clarify the question if you’re confused.
- Don’t babble. If you know the answer to what is being asked and want to provide the person with your expertise, provide it quickly and succinctly rather than spending a lot of time discussing irrelevant information.
- Remember that you’re the expert. Don’t be intimidated when a manager who has more responsibilities (but less knowledge of the daily workings of your position) asks you a question. Back up your answer with relevant facts and details.
- Keep your opinions to yourself. Unless you’re asked for a personal viewpoint, stick to the facts. Refrain from adding anecdotal observations to your answer.
- Don’t wing it. Admit when you don’t know the answer and offer a deadline for when you will provide one.
- Don’t be critical. Never answer a question with a condescending remark like, “You don’t know that?”
- Don’t be arrogant. Avoid using complicated language and technical terms. Explain things in language your audience will understand.
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