How often do you say some form of, thanks for the context, now answer the question? My guess is not often enough. Yet, you’ve had an experience where you ask a question, you get a response yet the problem is, the response has relatively nothing to do with the question and more often than not, shifts the narrative. Example, this week, the news continued with the number of accidents in Amazon warehouses that are allegedly due to the aggressive quotas for production. The response:
“…Amazon says that it is very diligent at counting all of its injuries and that other company aren’t, and that’s why you’re seeing higher rates of injury at Amazon. They’re very good at keeping track of this, at counting the injuries and at keeping workers off work until they’re actually ready to go back.”¹
Yup, it was a pivot, well, we’re better at reporting than other companies, so we seem higher. However, that doesn’t really address the number of injuries does it? But, are you guilty for letting people get away with not answering a question? One day this past week, I stopped three people mid answer when they went astray. The next day I got even better; no I didn’t stop more people. I got better at asking a succinct question. I found in some instances, it was most effective to start with a yes or no question rather than an open ended one.
This week, notice, do you pivot? How do you know? When you answer a question, do people seem to ask you the question again? If you’re to sure, finish your responses with, “does that answer your question” and see what happens for a while. If you ask a question and don’t get an answer, when it matters, do you challenge?²
²This is to acknowledge, there may be times when highlighting a missed answer can be politically jeopardizing your career and you should weight the consequences.