The Lost Art of Asking and Answering Questions Effectively

We all have pet peeves. As an introvert, mine is asking a binary answer question and getting anything but a simple yes or no answer. Why must people unload on me their entire thought process or worse, answer my question with another one. Ugh! Yes or no. Yes or no! I didn’t ask for your opinion and in any case you should be asking me for more information to build a context around my inquiry or request. Why must one think that what we are experiencing is the only point of reference? There is so much more than this provincial life…

To me, the saying on the title picture should go something like this: We listen to reply, not to internalize and understand. I think many people just want to reply to be heard even if it wasn’t the correct moment to speak or to be spoken to. We are so isolated in our little worlds of work-obligations-play that when we are finally asked about the weather we end up discharging all our thoughts and worries on the unsuspecting folk. We are incapable of replying with anything other than our own biases and opinions. We fail to listen to understand and to talk clearly enough to be understood.

Overall the quality of the questions I receive and of the answers given in return is really poor. It doesn’t matter how specific I am about my feelings, wants and desires, there is always a way the listener makes it about themselves, and hijacks the conversation to present their experiences and needs. Maybe they do it because they need to prove they are experts in the subject matter to know that their opinion carries weight. They may not realize that they are burdening an unsuspecting introverted soul with their weekend or marriage woes. Those like me will want to help and dig deeper into your psyche. My counterparts will want run away for the hills and pretend they never met you. If you have ever had someone ghost on you, they are usually introverts or jerks that couldn’t handle the Q&A data overload. In my case, if you ask for my informed opinion you will get it. You won’t get any extra info. Short, sweet and to the point. I sincerely want to listen and understand in order to provide you with the reassurance, comfort or dialogue you need. I can’t talk for the sake of argument. It bores me.

Although it is a bit pretentious to assume questions are being incorrectly answered based on my preference, my work and life experience has given me many data points to reach this conclusion. Most misunderstanding are due to an incorrectly long-winded answer or by not just saying yes or no. In a fast paced society we still take too much time to convey the proper responses and inputs. Weird because people in a hurry should be more precise and efficient if they want that hurry to mean something or make a difference. If you are doing less with more you are failing at life. Take a moment to step back, analyze what is not required and what you need to stop doing to earn back your efficacy. Answer the question asked and not the question you think they need answer. Don’t provide the response you think they want to hear. Be brave and bold and actually communicate and bond with your peers. Life is to short to listen just to reply and not to understand.

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