Imagine this, your boss walks up to you and asks, “You said the code could run on both Windows or Linux, right?” Do you say…
B) Yes, but not without some changes
C) Why do you need to know?
For some reason, people are offended when people answer a question with another question; however, it is my belief that unless the question was given in great detail the answer may not be 100% correct (or correct at all for that matter).
A bad habit most developers have (myself included) is to be hasty in responses by non-developers. Rip off your headphones, respond in the most terse answer, put headphones back on, and turn back to your screen. Regardless if you are being disrupted, or you are having a bad day, here is why you want to engage most questions with another question:
Hidden Agendas Are Revealed
First and absolutely foremost, asking the question why is a defensive move. More times then not, when people ask questions in a vague, hurried, or terse manner it is to hide or cover the real question they are attempting to answer. And why are they hiding these details? Most of the time it is because they don’t want to know the real answer to the question, they want to validate the answer they most want whether it is the truth or not.
Asking them why slows them down and causes them to validate themselves. Most importantly, it removes you as the scapegoat. After all, the developers said we could…
Shows Interest In The Problem
Engaging in a meaningful conversation is perceived as high value activity to others because it shows sincere interest in helping them to solve their problems. As a result, you will be perceived as a high value employee because of your interest.
You Become A Valued Team Player
If you are perceived as a high value employee because of how you interact with the team, it only leads to believe that you will become a valued team player. Valued team players are generally liked and as a result promoted…and all because you answered questions with questions.
Answering questions with questions is only perceived poorly by those who are attempting to hide something whether it is illegal, immoral, stupid, or their own ignorance. Overcome all of these pitfalls by taking the time out to dig deeper and provide real helping hand.