How to answer ‘false frame’ questions

While there isn’t one, specific formula to use when answering tough questions, there are certain ways to make them less daunting. Here are examples of ways to respond.

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I once worked with an executive from a manufacturing company that was introducing an innovative safety feature into one of its products.

The executive was excited as he was certain this new feature would provide a meaningful competitive advantage for his company.

Despite his excitement, he was also nervous. Touting the new feature would lead to questions from customers—and reporters—about whether the millions of products the company had already sold without the new safety device were less safe or even unsafe.

To help the executive develop an answer to that question, I asked him whether he viewed the older products as unsafe.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “Best in the marketplace. But the new ones are even safer.”

Based on his response, I immediately categorized the question of the product being unsafe as a “false frame” question, because it contained a logical-sounding but incorrect assumption. The question’ “frame” was wrong, meaning we’d have to create a new and more accurate one. RELATED: Free guide: 10 ways to improve your writing today. Download now.

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