Answering Questions

May 18, 2015Comments Off on Answering Questions

It's easy to give a well-intended wrong answer to a question.

You might give an opinion, when a member wants a fact. To get it right we need to know the 3 reasons why members ask questions: 

1)   We want to resolve a problem. If we have a problem, we ask a question to get the information we need to resolve it i.e. "Should I pack warm clothes if I'm travelling to Anchorage in Summer?"

2)   We want validation/connection. If we’re not sure of our status, the actions we’ve taken, or what we’re planning to do, we ask questions to solicit positive validation i.e. "Did anyone else find their first week as a medical student difficult?"

3)   We want to impress others. If we want others to know how smart (or talented) we are, we include this information disguised as a question i.e. "I've recently been offered the choice between a $20k pay rise at a smaller company, or a job offer at Google. Which do you think I should take?"

It doesn’t look good to say we want social acceptance or validation.

So we present every question as a genuine question, but don’t be fooled.

If you know what kind of answer a member wants, it's easier to give them the right answer. 

For example, imagine if someone asks “has anyone else ever {x}?”. You might say 'no'. But this question isn’t looking for facts, it’s looking for validation. So instead you can highlight someone you know that has done {x}. 

If members want to impress, you can congratulate them on their success and mention it elsewhere. Surprisingly, information-seeking are the least-common type of questions. 

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