5 Ways to Avoid a Question

Questions are made to be answered… aren’t they?  Rhetorical ones aren’t, as illustrated by the first sentence, but the laws of society dictate that normal questions have normal answers.  The drawback of such questions is, infallibly, that the person asking them gains information about you.  Knowledge is power, and power lets people manipulate you; therefore, questions are evil tricks designed to put you a place lower on the social ladder.  Everyone should know how not to answer a question.  Thus, I would like to present 5 ways to avoid a question!

  1. Be incomprehensible.  No one can understand someone who can’t be understood– therefore, it stands to reason that when you don’t want someone to understand you, you should be misunderstandable!  In other words, mumble through your answer– use odd terms confidently enough that they don’t question them– speak in another language.  Laugh loudly, clap them on the shoulder, and leave them confused.  Whatever works.  However, if being incomprehensible is contrary to your current image in society, don’t try this.  Someone who usually speaks clearly but suddenly decides to mumble is obviously hiding something important, and your interrogator will not rest until they’ve found out the truth.
  2. Be preposterous.  Often, this requires sarcasm.  A subtle lie will draw attention once it’s found to be false, but a lie that couldn’t be true in the first place will seem like a joke.  If the person asking the question has any shred of decency, they won’t push you for an answer.  Try to be genial, though– a person can easily lose any shred of decency if they feel like they’re being talked down to.  Don’t sneer as you say your hair is green.  Laugh as you say it, and they won’t question it.
  3. Be specific… unspecifically.  Any specific question demands a specific answer.  Fortunately, the specifics which specifically must be specific is unspecified.  If you take any detail to a minute level, the questioner will find it so specific that they don’t have the heart to ask you again for something that actually answers the question.  For instance, if someone asks about the bruise on your arm, give them the exact measurements of the thing that hit you– but no more than that.  If possible, give measurements that aren’t usually used.  In the US, use the metric system.  Everywhere else, use the US customary system.  Someone asks about the quality of your ballpoint pen.  Tell them you got it for two Euro in the airport in Marseilles.  Does that mean anything?  No.  The pens sold in Marseilles have no obviously greater quality than the pens sold in any other place.
  4. Be detached.  Insist on practicing magic tricks badly while they’re talking.  Juggle.  Make card houses.  Do something stupid with so much concentration that you don’t hear what they’re saying.  Don’t leave them behind, still asking questions– make them leave you, with none of their questions answered.
  5. Be annoying.  Answer a question with another question.  Mimic the voice.  Name an abstract concept for every yes or no question, and say yes or no for every question requiring a different answer.  Eventually, they will get angry, at which point you employ any of the other techniques listed above.  At that point, they will be so thankful not to hear “event horizon” in answer to “Do you like this hat?” that they won’t be bothered that you were specific in the wrong place, or that you didn’t enunciate.

Some people can’t handle the truth.  That’s why, sometimes, you have to keep it from them.  These tips should take you far into the grand art of avoiding questions.

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21 thoughts on “5 Ways to Avoid a Question

      1. Okay, so earlier this week I got a new premise idea about a crew of thieves made up of the outcasts of society (whether it’s our society or not I have yet to decide): the insane and the disabled. After reading this, I thought up an idea about a character who is paranoid about people finding out anything about him/her, so s/he avoids answering all questions. Sounds like a perfect candidate for that crew.

      2. Yes, I know. As soon as I thought the words “thriving crew” I said to myself “dude, you totally just stole that from Mistborn.” Sigh. Fortunately, I think that’s the only thing I’ve stolen. *Crosses fingers.*

  1. These are priceless! I have showed my friends and we all thought them simply superb. I envy you your incredible ‘un-answering abilities’! I am sure that these marvellous options will help me and many other people that I know, to evade some pretty awkward questions. Thank you so much!
    -Terri DeAuthor

  2. This is very interesting, Liam. Especially since a friend has been teaching me stuff having to do with the mind and people and this sort of thing. It’s awesome. And I’m getting better at avoiding questions now…I’m already rather good at picking words that look like they mean one thing but really mean another. Anyway. I just found it interesting that you posted on this.

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