“Do you love me?”
“No.” After 25 years, my husband gets to say that when I ask a stupid question.
“I had a question to ask. Can I interrupt you for a minute?”
“Why is it that you always call when I’m trying to write?”
“I’m trying to be more collaborative with you. And we’re in the store and I want to buy these shoes, but they’re $89.99.”
“Are they new?”
“Well that’s the thing, they’re a little bit used. But I checked eBay and we can make a $300 profit for sure.”
“Nothing is for sure. Put the shoes back and leave me alone. I’m writing.”
* * *
If you have to ask, the answer is no. One time my boss put it this way:
“If you’re coming to me, I can guarantee that the plan is a little bit wonky.”
Let’s play Family Feud, shall we? Where Steve Harvey says:
“What kinds of questions do you ask, where you already know the answer is going to be ‘no’?”
- “So can I have your number?”
- “What’s your timeline on making a hiring decision?”
- “Do I look fat in this dress?”
Consider how we deal with questions in consensus-building.
Only a doofus walks into the meeting cold and asks, “Hey, what do you all think?” For about ten years, I was that doofus.
As a colleague recently reminded me, highly evolved consensus-builders work the room in advance of the group convening. They approach each person one at a time, soliciting input in such a way that the answer becomes the listener’s idea rather than the asker’s.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
- Decide on a goal.
- Do your homework.
- Then calculate the risk of jumping.
If you still have to ask another person, you know you’ve overshot the mark.
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia. Currently she is a public servant, as well as an independent freelance writer. This blog, like all of her public content, is written in her personal capacity unless otherwise noted. It does not reflect the views of the U.S. government, in whole or in part. Photo credit: Sasvata (Shash) Chatterjee / Flickr