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  • Just Answer The Question

    We all know that politicians are incapable of answering the question being asked.

    But, you don’t need to take your queues from politicians.

    Even if you ARE a politician you should seek to …

    Just Answer The Question

    Consider:

    When was the last time you answered the question that was asked of you?

    Think about it for a moment. I’ll wait.

    Of course, we don’t expect politicians to answer the question that was posed to them. Which is both sad and a little bit shocking that we let them get away with that.

    Our world is different. We live in the real world.

    In the real world, away from the political games and gamesmanship that we seem to relish and expect of politicians the reality is that far too often the question posed is not actually answered. It’s up to us, it’s up to you (and me) … to try and correct for that.

    My challenge to you:

    Try, really try, to answer the question that is being asked of you.

    Next time someone asks you something … pause for a moment … then actually answer their question.

    The pause is not so that you can take a second to come up with a non-answer. The pause is so that you can consider a well thought out and formulated beginning , middle, and end to exactly answer the question posed to you. Even if that answer is just one word … a yes or a no.

    Isn’t this a bit harsh?

    Sure. Yes it’s harsh.

    I’m not trying to punish you.

    I’m trying to reward the question asker. You can help the question asker by responding to the question they ask of you. When you do you will stand out in your career. Why? Because so many others don’t answer the question being asked. When you train yourself to respond to the question … and only the question … you will save time, energy, and reduce (or even eliminate) confusion.

    But, what is the question doesn’t make sense?

    You always have the option of asking for more information. But, if someone asks you a direct question and you can provide a direct response… Do it!

    Why do I even bring this up?

    Far too often I hear people respond with a bunch of extraneous stuff, but not the question being asked.

    If someone asks something as simple as:

    • Are you going to get that project done on time?
    • Have you booked our travel plans yet?
    • Did the customer buy the product we expected?

    Of course, these are yes or no questions. Guess what? A lot of questions can be answered with a simple yes or no. They don’t require a lot of preamble and I don’t require a lot of post-amble.

    Caveat: Some people think a Yes or No is curt. I disagree.
    If the question can be answered with a simple yes or no … Do it!

    So, I challenge you and I beg of you… Please just answer the question!

    Why do this?

    Simple. People want their questions answered. When you can answer the question being asked you will stand out in your career. People will realize you value their time and that you value your time. I say this so bluntly and in such a curt way because the fact is if you can answer a question with one word… Do it!

    Caveat 2: Try not to answer a question with a question.
    It’s annoying (I know … I do it all the time)

    Curt and to the point responses to the question being asked don’t need to be considered rude or inconsiderate.

    Two Examples in Retail:

    The Hardware Store – Scenario 1

    • You: Where can I find the packing tape?
    • Employee: Aisle 33
    • Employee Bonus Option: Would you like me to show you where?
    • 5 minutes later
    • You: Purchases complete, smiling, happy customer

    The Hardware Store – Scenario 2

    • You: Where can I find the packing tape?
    • Employee: What are you trying to do?
    • You: If you really want to know … cue long story that doesn’t get to the root of the question
    • Employee: More questions (perhaps guised in the getting to know you persona)
    • You: More pre-amble
    • 20 minutes later …
    • You: Where can I find the packing tape?

    This is the same kind of conversation that goes on in every business every day.

    Skip the Preamble

    If the person asking the question wants to know the preamble or the post-amble they can ask a follow on question. Or, you can ask a question to clarify what they want. And, if needed and desired by both sides you can fill in some of the blanks. But, only if needed.

    If you need more guidance on getting to the root of an issue … consider this post Solve for Why … The Business Secret

    But, the point of this post is … Just Answer The Question

    When you do you show that you value the persons time asking the question and that you value your time.

    Try it today! Just Answer The Question being asked.

    Let us know how it goes. Please share your thoughts in the comments … whether you use this technique or something else.

    Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances. Follow him on Twitter @jshuey or on LinkedIn: in/JeffShuey

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