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Is this poor communication? Yes!

Using self-directed questions and answers in place of straightforward factual statements is an annoying new trend, and it's just poor communication.

Have I noticed a strange new language pattern creeping into people's speech? Yes.

Does it make the message any clearer? NoDoes it annoy me? Yes, it annoys me a lot!Lately I've heard this strange speech pattern from many public figures being interviewed on television. When asked to elaborate on a point or provide information, instead of making a simple, straightforward statement, they phrase their message as a question and answer. So we get a series like this:

Do we have all the answers? No. Do we still have a long way to go? Yes. Are we moving in the right direction? Yes.

What a silly way to speak. The straightforward, natural expression of these thoughts would be, "We don't have all the answers and we still have a long way to go, but we're moving in the right direction." That's much better, because it communicates the message much more clearly than the gimmicky questions do.

Now this virus is spreading, and I'm also hearing the one-person Q&A session from people in the workplace too. I'm tempted to interrupt just before they answer their own question and say, "I don't know. I thought you did."

Perhaps when politicians do this, it's yet another ploy to give them a moment to think before they answer the question, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. We in the business world should also learn the art of buying time before answering --- but there are better ways.

If you're asked a question at a meeting, for example, you don't need to spit out your answer in a split second. There are some simple bridging words you can use to give yourself a moment to think. The simplest example would be, "Let me think about that for a moment." You could also say, "That's an interesting question," but don't overdo that one, or it can also becoming distracting.

Sometimes the self-directed question can be useful if an interviewer isn't making the question clear. You might then say, "If you're asking me if we will be expanding our product line this quarter, then the answer is no". This is obviously an attempt to clarify the subject in order to be sure you are answering the right question, and is perfectly acceptable-once.

But when a series of factual statements is turned into a list of artificial questions, it's just plain silly. Not only that, but it soon becomes irritating, and verbal irritants make for poor communication.

If you want your message to be clear and forcefulFeature Articles, don't ask yourself questions-just say what you want to say.

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Helen Wilkie is a professional speaker and author, specializing in workplace communication. Subscribe to her free monthly e-zine, "Communi-keys" at and get your free 40-page e-book, "23 ideas you can use RIGHT NOW to communicate and succeed in your business career"

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