Why do some people refuse to answer direct questions, and instead will respond with a question of their own? How can I understand this communication pattern to stop being enraged by it? and how do I get my questions answered?
This issue is somewhat related to this question
, but there is less rambling in my situation, and more avoiding my question by asking me a direct question in response that requires me to go do more work or distracts me from my original question.
Basically it seems really aggressive to me, and seriously irritating when I just want to find an answer to my question and check something off my to-do list.
Here are two examples, one is from a boss-type person (so it seems impolite not to run off and answer the questions) another from a peer (so could be handled more directly, I suppose).
Example A (boss type):
Hi Linda, I wanted to see if you were able to look at that TPS report and decide if you are OK with the direction?
I didn't look at it yet. Can you find out for me whether Paul, Joe, Jen and Maureen have any issues with it? Also, is this TPS report the most current and can you get that? And, I'd like to know if there's anything new in the Marketing plan that effects my approval of the TPS report.
Example B (peer)
Hey Julie, can you tell me what vendors you are using for the conference so I can get started with them?
I'll have to look at that. Have you called Jim yet about the space? What about the budget? Send it over to me so I can look at it. And what do you want to do about the cocktail party? I need to know your preference for colors.
In both cases:
1. The new questions asked by Linda/Julie have never been asked before and may or may not be relevant to the situation at hand.
2. My typical response is to directly answer the questions asked, and maybe repeat the question I originally had in that same conversation/email or wait (if they indicated they need time to think about it). My general communication style is direct (if I don't know the answer I say so, and then find out the answer).
3. Neither Linda nor Julie will actually follow up on the original question without additional prompting - then, as you can imagine, it's rinse-and-repeat - which then brings up more questions for me to deal with.
Basically this drives me insane. I have made up lots of stories in my mind about the attributes of people who may use this style, things like this:
- They are super disorganized and don't think about what they need until I am in front of their face
- asking new questions is a form of misdirection to avoid answering my question
both of those interpretations are a bit less than charitable - it might be nice to consider a kinder interpretation or to understand that some people just aren't like me and adjust my style appropriately. Most importantly, I'd like to get my damn question answered.
A. What am I missing about this conversation style or thought pattern? (that may help me be less knee-jerk enraged by it)
B. How do I get the info I need?