1. Stay Open in Your Body Language.
When the heat is on, it's tempting to want to run out of the room (or at least close off with your body). Instead of closing into a defensive posture, try taking a deep breath to release the tension in your body. Keep your eyes focused on the other person and your arms open. This will communicate you are confident and unthreatened.
2. Validate the Other and Probe for More Information.
It's tempting to want to blurt the first thing that comes into your head, but that's usually not a great choice. Depending on the circumstance, you might say something like, "Great question. Could you tell me a little more ...” or “That’s very interesting, I’m so glad you asked that.” This tactic will validate the other and create a sense that their goals are aligned, or at least in dialogue, with yours. It allows you to gain additional information before committing to a course. And, it often buys you a few extra seconds to calm your body and think your thoughts.
3. Acknowledge and Move On.
Once you've validated and probed for information, the other person will feel heard. If it seems appropriate, set a different time to discuss the question after you'd had time to think. There is no harm in taking the time you need to consider a question. From there, do what’s necessary to close the loop so you've addressed the question in some way. Then shift the conversation back to the main topic or something in your comfort zone. Continue as if nothing happened. Find enjoyment in what you’re discussing. And you will be in the clear!