Sometimes when you’re sharing your story - whether it’s to your local MP, a journalist, or even with friends – they can ask questions that you’d prefer not to answer. You can always reply with “no comment” and leave it at that, but there are other techniques you can practice that help you to get across your point without shutting down the conversation. Here are some of our top tips:

1: Buy yourself some time

Even a few seconds can make the difference between blurting out something you don’t want to say, and giving yourself time to think about how you want to answer a question. There are a few ways you can do this:

  1. Be comfortable with silence and pause before answering. It also has the benefit of making you seem thoughtful and like you’re really considering the question you’ve been asked
  2. Repeat the question before answering it. You can either do this yourself, by speaking the question out loud, or asking the person who asked you to repeat the question.

2: Only answer part of the question

If the question has a few questions within it, you can choose which one you want to answer.

Q: “I’ve heard that many kinship carers are left living in poverty. Have you been affected financially, and how has that impacted on your children and your family?”

A: “It’s true that many kinship carers live in poverty. I had to give up work when I took on my grandsons which was a difficult decision to make, but it’s what you have to do for family.” (Note that the kinship carer has chosen not to answer the part of the question about the impact on her children.)

3: Refocus the question

If there’s a point that you want to make, and the person hasn’t asked you a direct question about it, look for opportunities to refocus the question.

Q: “I’ve heard that many kinship carers are left living in poverty. Have you been affected financially, and how has that impacted on your children and your family?”

A: “Many kinship carers end up living in poverty. There is guidance for local authorities that are meant to make sure that all kinship carers are supported, no matter their legal order. However local authorities are significantly under-resourced. We want the government to replace the current guidance with a Kinship Care Act, backed up by resource, that would mean no kinship carer is left without the support they need.”

4: Bridging

You may have seen politicians do this many a time during interviews, and it’s not something that should be used often. But if a discussion has gone off track then bridging can be an effective way to bring it back to the point you want to make. The key is to acknowledge the original question and then pivot to the question you want to answer.

Q: “I’ve heard that many kinship carers are left living in poverty. Have you been affected financially, and how has that impacted on your children and your family?”

A: “Poverty is certainly one factor, but more support is needed too. Kinship carers need spaces where they can meet others and get advice and support. We’d like to see a support group in every local authority, as well as information given to kinship carers as soon as discussions start about them possibly taking on the role so that they can make informed decisions.”