Thinking on your feet — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

Thinking on your feet

Get PDF file

by on
in Admin Pro Forum

Question: How can I think on my feet when talking to the boss, without looking rather inept?  -- Anonymous


For years, I thought that as soon as someone finished speaking I had to start my reply. Not so. It's actually very restful, and respectful, to allow a few seconds to go by before you open your mouth. It's amazing how long those few seconds seem and you will probably have to practice a few times, but don't rush to speak. This gives the impression that you are considering their words and giving them weight; and, in fact, you ARE giving yourself extra time to decide on your response. This is also hugely helpful in refraining from sarcasm, spiteful remarks, imprudent gossip, and generally putting your foot in your mouth. You may even come to be considered and wise and thoughtful person!

You can be prepared for anything and still think on your feet. Observe and learn your boss, or anyones strengths, weaknesses and what they respond positively too. If your observations skills are good and you learn the obvious signs then apply it to your approach and responses you'll always have a better outcome!

I've found that even when someone expects an immediate response, it is best to tell that person that you need a moment to process the issue, or that you need a moment to think about it. This tells the individual that you are not blank, but you are actually thinking it through. This can give you more creditibility with and respect from an individual.

Don't try to rush it. I have even told someone I need the lunch hour to think it over. This was okay, and we had a much better discussion after lunch than if I had blurted out the first thing that came to my mind.

If you are not naturally quick, and even if you are, become a studious listener. I always carry a little notepad with me and when discussing projects or plans, I make notes. If I get stumped on what to contribute, I will review my notes, which gives me both time and ideas. Plus, I have those notes much later in case the matter comes up again. Additionally, it helps me to define my role in our organization by seeing exactly what is expected of me on each project.

There is a great organization called Toastmasters that can help you with improving your speaking skills. It is designed to assist people in speech giving and in situations where you need to think on your feet. The clubs are very friendly and it is a great learning environment. Membership is VERY reasonable too. You can find the club nearest you by going to

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: