Civilians often ask veterans different questions about their military experience. While many of the questions are pretty much straightforward and easy to answer, some may be a bit difficult to answer. Why? There are many reasons for that. For example, some civilians lack an understanding of how to better approach veterans.
If you are asked difficult questions that you’re not comfortable answering, read below to know how you can make any conversation simpler.
This a good technique to respond with after you were asked a vague question. It is a very simple one as well: just ask them to clarify what they mean. For example, which aspect of your military experience that person is referring to? What timeframe does he or she have in mind? Does the person even know you are a veteran?
Here are some example answers.
“The same words can mean different things to a civilian and a veteran,” says Bob David, a veteran, and a writer at write-my-essay-for-me.com. “To avoid confusion, it is better to ask the questioner how exactly they define their message.” For example, you can say the following:
If you think it’s a good idea not to answer some part of a question or the entire question, you can always refocus it. This is done by taking one keyword from the question that you would like to discuss and build a strong response around it.
Answer: At the time, my supervisor told me that he was really impressed with my skills, leadership, and confidence, so I think I was more than qualified for the job. It’s a shame you did not hear what the soldiers I led say about me. I can give you some information on that if you want.”
In many cases, questioners are not looking for specific answers. They just want to have their question discussed. In other cases, their question just does not have a singular, simple answer. So you give them that. Just discuss their question and provide them with your side of the story.
For example, if someone tells you that they know how difficult it to make the transition to civilian life, and many veterans fail to make a proper one, and they ask you whether you have succeeded, you can discuss this question as follows:
“Yes, of course, I know that, too. My friends told me many stories about veterans struggling to keep their jobs for which they were not prepared. As for me, I am no longer a statistical anomaly desperately hanging onto the fringes of society. Believe me, I realize what needs to be done to make that transition. And I am just a simple person like you, trying to do my best every day.”
If you need a moment to think about an answer, you can buy it. Just don’t fill the gap with “Umm…” and “Uhhh…” sounds, they make you look unconfident. Instead, ask the questioner to repeat the question or do it yourself. Perhaps, only a few seconds is all you need to come up with a good answer.
Let’s reflect on how you can use these facts to answer one of the most difficult questions that civilians can ask veterans: “Have you ever killed someone in combat?”
If you feel offended by this question, you’re not supposed to. It’s a relevant question that you can easily answer and help people improve their understanding of the military while at it.
For most veterans, “No” would be the most definitive answer to this question. Of course, many former military members do not fire a single shot even while deployed, and even those who do will never know the result of their shot.
The socially responsible thing to do would be to use the hack of refocusing the question or answering with a question. War stories may make a for a good time, but the best way is to talk about something else and let the questioner deal with it.
For more information on how to handle job interviews for veterans, follow our blog or visit our job board regularly.