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What Kinds of Answers


Do You Give?


     I once had a boss who answered every question with a question. It became so predictable, I hardly ever asked him something without having all the backup information ready … I guess he was more savvy than I first imagined; and I learned from the annoyance factor alone.

     I had another boss who spouted out “Yes” or “No” (mostly “No”) as a response to everything asked of her. And if you tried to ask an open-ended question, she would tell you to rephrase the inquiry for a “Yes” or “No” response! Except for gaining some insight on the management style of a control freak, I never learned much of anything from her.

    When you answer some one’s question, do you elaborate on your thinking? By sharing your rationale, are you cultivating leadership or teamwork? Does this way of dealing with others take more time and effort? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Only you can say.

     The bottom line though would seem to be that when you have a business-vested or personal interest in the individual asking for your opinions, advice or decisions, you will probably be more interested in sharing the reasons behind your answers.

     So then along comes all the great psychological motivational gurus armed with studies which prove that those with whom time, patience and effort are spent will rise to the occasion and outperform those who are ignored or who are not taken so securely under the wing.

     Aha! Does that then mean if you explain yourself to some and not to others, you are exercising bias and perhaps precluding the potential success of those you simply snap at with your “Yes” or “No” verdicts?

     Short of sitting in some corner and chanting “Life is just one big manipulation operation and the chips need to fall where they may!” you might want to consider the following:

A snappy retort that’s not pointedly requested is an insult. It presumes the individual posing the question has no value and is not worthy of your time and energy.

Every question asked of you represents an opportunity to teach, and a chance to demonstrate leadership by example.

The way that you respond to questions is as important as your answer in the lineup of how others measure your leadership value, your trust, and your reputation.

Thoughtful questions and answers form the cornerstone to the building of employee loyalty and exceptional performance. And those qualities are the makings of innovative thinking, increased sales, heightened productivity, and a solid posture in the communities your business serves. 

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