October 17, 2015

Behind the questions


When they ask questions they don’t always want to know the answers.

Not those answers anyway.

Ok, when a printer asks for a Pantone number, she’s talking from a position of expertise and wants a specific kind of don’t-waste-my-time answer.

So yes, factual questions in context demand factual answers.

The rest of the time it’s trickier to pick.

Someone less familiar with a subject probably doesn’t even know what questions to ask. You need to treat these enquiries as if they’re as much about the field of play as about the specific answer. For example, How do you handle security?, can be handled with two words, two hundred or two thousand. The best answer depends more on them than you.

Then there’s the questions behind the questions. When they’re actually more interested in you. Like when you’re interviewing for a job, or pitching to investors. They’re asking … how does this person think, do they know their subject cold, have they considered all the angles, what happens when they trip? In other words, when their real question is … who are you?

So, before answering … who are they?

Skippy Strategy: Start with the motive for the question, then answer in context.