Have you ever been caught in a situation where someone wanted to “catch you” in your answer? Everything seems fine one-on-one, but let an audience form, and then the true intent comes out; the trap. In their smugness, they ask a question, only wanting a yes or a no. Any other answer response is not what they want? Why?

You see this happen a lot in leadership. People want an answer by manipulating you and the conversation. Think of spin control… Instead of getting into that trap, you could throw them for a loop and answer their question with a question for them. Keeping the topic the same allows them to possibly fall into their own verbal trap.

I would dare say that most people who demand a yes or no answer have fudged and twisted the truth of the question anyway. Some just lie from the onset. What’s funny here is that if they knew half of what they were actually asking, they would know that others see right through their facade.


Leaders who ask loaded questions… you know any? They put those who are to answer in a lose-lose situation. Answer yes, answer no, they got you. When this happens, truth becomes irrelevant. Once someone has their mind made up, it does not matter if the truth is told or not. They want the answer they want to hear.

This leadership manipulation comes down to tautology logic, where a statement is true by necessity or by virtue of its logical form. The Latin for this is tertium non datur – as if there is no possibility of a third answer. I would say beware of people who ask questions in this form. They are only out to help themselves.

Insecure, weak leaders do not like to be challenged. Agreeing to disagree is nonexistent in their world. When they do not get the yes or no answer they are looking for, they are challenged on a much deeper level. They take it personally, and then you become the problem.

I would say that the leadership lesson here is not to be manipulated. However, we all know that we cannot control others’ thoughts and actions. Sometimes… But a lesson I believe that is helpful is to make sure we are firmly planted with our convictions that others would dare not try to manipulate us. We will be less likely to be manipulated when we are.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2022 J Clay Norton

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