I write about the things that matter to me. All opinions are my own.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

If You Have To Ask, You Can't Afford It

"Do you love me?"
"No." After 25 years, my husband gets to say that when I ask a stupid question.
"I have 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."
"Spoilsport."
* * *
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.
Photo credit: Sasvata (Shash) Chatterjee / Flickr