Yesterday I met up with a guy that wanted to buy a beat-up scooter I had hanging around the garage. We’ll call him Scooter Guy.
Scooter Guy promptly asked me:
“How much you want for it?”
To which I retorted,
“How much do you want to offer?”
He fired back,
“It’s rude to answer a question with a question.”
To which I responded with another question,
“Oh…you think it's rude to answer a question with a question?”
He then offered me a dollar amount, which I accepted. Game. Set. Match.
I had to chuckle to myself for a few reasons. One is that I have literally spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to attain a Master’s degree in the art of answering a question with a question. The University of New England really should consider renaming the program.
The second reason I chuckle is that these little quips we throw out that we likely saw in a movie don’t necessarily have to be our truth. We have all kinds of rigid beliefs we buy into.
For instance, who decided how the cutlery is meant to be ordered on the table? Who makes these decisions and why do we have to follow them? Yes, I understand that the silverware is ordered by the way the food arrives at the table, but who made the decision about the order of the food?
One of the things I find most titillating in life is challenging my own rigid beliefs. I mean, its both a little scary and incredibly exciting to think about something in a way that you had never considered before…and has the potential to set you free.
Scooter Guy wanted to pressure me into giving him a price so that he could then offer me something lower. Had I buckled under his rigid belief that answering a question with a question is rude I may not have gotten exactly what I wanted for the scooter.
Answering a question with a question is empowering both for the asker and for the askee. When we return a question with a question it can free you from having to bear the burden of the answer, but more importantly, it empowers the other person to do their own critical thinking. Because let's face it, like Scooter Guy, we aren’t likely to accept the answer we get anyway unless its what we really want to hear.
When we decide for ourselves what we want, think, need we build our confidence and sense of self. Sometimes it just requires a bit of introspection and self-reflection…maybe even a great question to our question. Especially one that challenges our rigid beliefs.