Bat off tricky questions, with YouTube

Don't let difficult questions trip you up, with Yes Minister, The Young Ones and Blackadder.

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

In the week that the UK Government has been tying itself in verbal knots over exactly what it did or didn't say to Libya, ahead of the Scots releasing convicted bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, we thought it was a good opportunity to look at ways to swerve difficult questions - something that can, after all, be a vital skill in the office... 

Distract the listener's attention:
If you've been asked a direct question to which you don't know the answer, obfuscation is the key: sounding informed on a given topic (even if it's the wrong one) may be enough to pull the wool over the questioner's eyes. In this clip from Yes Minister, Hacker's guest demands a public enquiry (sound familiar, Gordon?), but Sir Humphrey attempts to distract her with a lengthy digression involving the Latin ablative.

Stack the odds in your favour:
If you find yourself on the receiving end, drastic measures may sometimes be required. When the Young Ones go on University Challenge (representing Scumbag College against Footlights College Oxbridge), they come up short in terms of looks, brains and connections - until Rick switches the questions. Unfortunately, he then makes the mistake of admitting it.

Have confidence in yourself:
Sounding confident can get you a long way, even if you don't really know what you're talking about. And if you're really good, you'll have no truck with anyone who tries to undermine your confidence - like Blackadder does here with the famed Dr Johnson. As we approach the 300th anniversary of the learned lexicographer's birth, it's a reminder that even the best can be prone to the odd bit of verbal confusion...


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Editor's blog: You get what you pay for
Bat off tricky questions, with YouTube

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