There’s a certain kind of answer that just makes anyone on the receiving end feel bad for asking the question, and keeps the question â€œin playâ€ without actually moving the ball. Itâ€™s circular. Itâ€™s not useful. And, itâ€™s quietly sort of mean.
It goes like this (and by the way, Iâ€™ve both done it and it has been done to me. Neither feels good.)
Q “Do you know where the blah-blah document / creative collateral / beach towels / printer ink is stored?”
A â€œPer my earlier note, they are stored in X / Y / Zâ€ â€¦ORâ€¦ â€œSee my previous email for the answer.â€
This happens, obviously, because the askee feels that they have adequately provided information for the asker at an earlier time, but I think we all know what it really means. The askee wants to prove to the asker that she is lazy, stupid, annoying â€“ or at best â€“ forgetful.
Iâ€™m not saying itâ€™s okay for people to be lazy and ask the same questions over and over. I would be the first to say that this is crutch of a habit by those who donâ€™t want to do the work of looking for said missing item.
But no matter which way you spin this, even if youâ€™re right, youâ€™re wrong. It doesnâ€™t move anything forward to react like this â€“Â nothing changes except a neutral or benign feeling â€¦turns sour.
This is particularly dangerous in small companies or teams. Letâ€™s find a nicer way to say, â€œI already told you.â€
The price of a little creative communication is paid back in gratitude.