How to say ‘no comment’ without sounding guilty

Company spokespeople can be put into a bind when reporters enter the ‘no-go’ zone. Try these nuanced alternatives to keep mum while maintaining credibility.

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The words “no comment” can be problematic in a media interview.

Too often, that curt phrase sends a “guilty” message to the audience—even if your refusal to comment has nothing to do with guilt or innocence.

I recently worked with an economist on media training. Her financial institution, like so many others, has been the subject of regulatory scrutiny over the past few years. At the end of one practice interview on an unrelated topic, I asked:

“Can you tell me the latest on the investigation into your financial institution?”

After looking flustered for a couple of seconds, she managed to sputter only two words:

“No comment.”

Not only did that response make her (and her company) look guilty of something-but her unconfident reply undercut everything else she had said during an otherwise successful interview.

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