How To Turn Negative Questions Into Positive Statements

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how to turn negative questions into positive statements

How To Turn Negative Questions Into Positive Statements

Let’s say you’ve prepared all you can for this media interview.  You have your talking points down and your context and messaging.  Sometimes, you may encounter a tricky question you didn’t anticipate when you step into a live interview.  

Instead of letting it cripple you, learn how to turn those negative questions into positive statements. 

Below, we give several strategies to help you when you encounter a negative question.

1. Eye-Breath Movement

When you first encounter a negative question, your heart starts pumping. This can lead you to begin with an um or ah. Instead, the best thing to do is to pause and notice what you are about to say.  Don’t jump to react.

how to turn negative questions into positive statementsImplement the eye-breath movement.

  1. Give yourself a moment to pause and bring your eyes down to the ground as if you are thinking about your answer. 
  2. Shake your head, and take a breath. 
  3. Then move your head up to address the question.

This extra second or two of looking down and breathing is a mindful way for you to catch yourself before speaking defensively. 

The pause will also make it seem like you are in control and poised, even if you are feeling very nervous.  

Before you begin to respond to a negative question, or a question you weren’t prepared for, give yourself a beat to breathe. Practice the eye-breath movement at home as you prepare for your next media interview. 



2. Responding

After you’ve given yourself a moment to pause, you will want to turn the negative question into a positive statement. 

There are a few strategies to use when responding to these questions.

  • End On A Positive – If the question touches on a pain point, answer yes or no, and then bring up something positive concerning this point. Always end your sentence with something positive, even though the question asks something about a weakness.  For example, if the host asks about the huge loss this quarter and what happened? A simple response would be to say, “Yes, it was a difficult quarter for us, but we are now putting things in place that will better position us to reach our target for next quarter.  And we are confident about it.” You are still honest, but you are also ending with positivity.
  • Stick To Your Message – If the host asks you again, you can simply rehash your point. And they will take it as a cue that you’ve already said all you can, and you don’t want to say anything more. how to turn negative comments into positive statements
  • Keep It Short – There will also be a time when you simply don’t know the answer. This could be because you don’t have or know the information right now.  This happens a lot in high-stress interviews where the situation is still unfolding. In this case, if the host asks a negative question, you can say, “The situation is unfolding, and it’s being looked into. “ You want to say this matter-of-factly. This means using a downward pitch. In this way, the reporter will know this is all you can truly say. 

The key is to stick to your messaging and keep it short. You don’t want the reporter to feel like they can still pull more out of you. 

Be sure to stick to your message and end each response positively.  Keeping it short will ensure you don’t say anything more than necessary.


3. Be Direct

Another strategy is to be very direct in your response. You can simply say, “No comment.” Chances are, the host will rephrase their question to get you to answer. However, it is important for you to stick to your message. 

If you can’t say anything, simply say, “No comment.”

After the second time, the reporter won’t likely push. 

Being direct with your statement will help you avoid answering a question you don’t know the answer to.  This is also a great strategy to help move the interview forward, or end it if you are done answering questions.

Inevitably, the media will sometimes ask about negative things or catch you off guard. They aren’t trying to be malicious; they’re just trying to cover their bases. Don’t deviate from your strategy. Stick with your messaging, and keep it short.


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