Don’t answer my question!

Written by: Sam Warner
Published on: 2 July 2024
Categories: Neurodiversity

Don’t ask me a question if you don’t want to know MY answer.

Don’t you just love it when people ask you a question and proceed to make assumptions and try to answer it for you or worse, only give you a couple of options as replies, influencing your thoughts and closing down any chance of an authentic unadulterated reply.

I don’t know if you have noticed but UK chat-show host Jonathan Ross does this all the time.  It’s not called “The Jonathan Ross Show” for nothing – because it’s all about him!

It’s not just irritating to watch it’s exasperating when it happens to you in conversation. In my experience I notice it in networking situations, meeting new people who have, of course already made some assumptions about you based on what you look like and your voice/accent in the first few seconds.

Why do we ask questions?

Surely it is to find out information we didn’t previously know.  Why, then, would anyone try to guess the answer, or make assumptions (which are often wrong)? Is it because we hope to show the person we are talking to that we are able to guess accurately what they will say? Is it because we think we might make a connection by showing we are intuitive?

Maybe no-one thinks much before doing it, it’s just a nasty habit they have picked up. The trouble with habits is they are hard to break.  You have to form a stronger new habit to override that behaviour or action.

Here’s a question, “Do you care enough about good quality conversations to form a new habit?”

Becoming self aware isn’t an easy or swift practise.  Listening skills can be applied to yourself as well as to others. In any and all conversations, try to listen to what you say, what questions you ask, and if you stop talking immediately to hear the real answer.

Successful people listen, remember details and use their charisma to win people over and build strong relationships. They don’t spend their time telling people things or sharing information out.  They are gatherers of information and by remembering details along the way, they can make people feel special by mentioning those details when next they meet. For example, when someone asks you how your spouse and children are by name, or how you got on at important event you mentioned last time you spoke.

Here’s another question, “Would you give someone feedback if they were doing it to you?”

Most people baulk at the idea of giving someone feedback.  Especially if they have been given poor feedback themselves from others in the past.  I wouldn’t expect you to or advise you to give feedback to a new acquaintance but you can give feedback to those you know well.  Friends and family and co-workers should be able to receive feedback given kindly, privately and at an appropriate time.

Receiving feedback is an art. I’ll be writing a whole blog about giving and receiving feedback, soon.

About Sam Warner

Hi I'm Sam Warner. Neurodivergent Communications Specialist supporting you to Get Your Message Across. Welcome to my blog.


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