Put on the Spot? Here's How to Own Your Response:

Put on the Spot? Here's How to Own Your Response:
From Recruiter - February 7, 2017

Article by Kelli Richards

No one likes being put on the spot, but the experience does teach you to anticipate the unexpected. Thats a lesson forever useful in life and in business.

While technological advances in communication have diminished the frequency of in-person interactions, face-to-face exchanges are still among the most preferred forms of business communication, according to marketing strategy firm Ballantine. In one survey conducted by Verizon, 87 percent of respondents said in-person meetings were more creative and productive than virtual meetings.

But what happens when face-to-face chats go awrywhen the conversation pivots in an unforeseen direction and you are suddenly asked to perform on the fly? Adapt or die, as they say. Or perhaps less dramatically, learn how to be an impromptu problem solverwhat I call a universal adapter.

I once met with a prominent family who opted to back one of my clients. Turns out, I wasnt prepared for them. Every sibling weighed in on business decisions, which created an unexpected dynamic. The next curveball came when I realized I was essentially auditioning to secure the opportunity. They asked me to present my business approach on the spot, but I hadnt reviewed any materials or plans. With limited information and preparation, I wasnt ready to provide that level of detail.

Should I have been more prepared? Yes. Was the situation mildly uncomfortable? Definitely. Still, my predicament became an opportunity to practice thinking on my toes. I operated from my gut, put my best foot forward, and tried to follow the conversation. I responded with as much insight as I could offer. In the end, we moved forward, and it was a great learning experience.

With time and practice, my ability to perform as a universal adapter has grown. Its both a mindset and a muscle that grows stronger every time its stretched.

Learning to think on the spot doesnt happen overnight. With a little finesse and confidence, you can recover the next time a live meeting finds you scanning the floor for answers.

1. Dont Be Afraid to Buy Some Time

When youre caught off-guard in a meeting, being fast on your feet is obviously ideal. But if you find yourself panicking, its best to pause. Ask for a short break, even just to use the restroom or take a slow, measured drink of your water or coffee. Use that time to develop an effective response.

Another way to buy timeis repeatingthe question. The person to whom youre speaking will see it as engagement on your part rather than a stalling technique. You can also ask about desired outcomes and expectations before answering the question. These simple tactics can turn a stressful scenario intoa collaborative problem-solving session. You and your conversation partner might have been on different pages before, but now youll meet in the middle.

2. Lean on Your Team


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