Warning: Beware of Quick Questions

Can I ask you a quick question?

I hate when people ask this.

I know it will take me a while to answer.

The question may be quick, but the answer usually takes a lot of thought and a lot of time.

Example:  “I have a quick question.  What did you think of my designs in the show?”

Maybe the person asking the question doesn’t want to intrude.  Maybe they don’t want to be obligated in some way.  Maybe they don’t want to ask a question that might involve a dialogue .

Maybe they want to get my quick reaction.  Maybe they don’t really want me to think too much.

Not sure what it is, but it doesn’t give me or another respondent much room for an answer.

Lately when people ask me this, I don’t reply right away, and when I do, I try to make it quick.  After all, that’s what they say they want.  [It usually doesn’t satisfy them though]

Or I say, “can we talk about this later?”

This signals that although the question may be quick, the answer and discussion deserves more thought and time.

If you ask a question, short or long, quick or not, be open to the feedback that might result.  Don’t limit the response and the respondent.

There are times when you might not want to answer these quick questions.

My accountant tells me that at this time of the year [tax time], wherever he goes, people come up to him and want to ask him a quick [tax] question.  He’s smart:  He tells them, “to come see me in my office.”

And the urban dictionary says it beautifully:  A quick question never has a quick answer. Nor does the person ask it quickly.

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  1. Michael Bell says:

    I can’t agree with your more, Bob. I also hate hearing “for quality purposes this call may be recorded”. What does that mean? Quality purposes? A better statement would be “to ensure we are delivering the best in customer service, this call may be recorded”.
    What about “my bad”? What are we doing to the English language?