Why is it becoming so difficult to ask simple questions and get straightforward answers? Why do people have to think deeply before answering any questions and give a safe reply or a "correct" reply?
A friend once said that she attended a meeting of japanese and she found that after each person spoke, they were all silent for a few minutes and then started responding one after another. The period of silence is intended to ensure that they take in what has been said, process it and then respond rather than say something quickly and impulsively.
Makes sense in a serious business setting but imagine bringing the same attitude to polite personal conversations!

Let me give you an example. I met a friend after a long time on my walk and asked: "all ok?' and the reply was :"Why, do I look different?"
I guess the fault was mine.I should have stuck to the good old "how are you?"

This is even better.
I asked a friend who has gone to a US university recently if he had many friends in the US. The reply was: "I have sent a mail to a batchmate from college and if he replies quickly, I'll be able to tell you in a day or two."
Apparently this friend was supposed to send him the contact addresses of all their common acquaintances living in the US. Now you see the connection?
He thought he could give me the exact number of his friends in the US once he gets the list I think!

In future whenever I frame a question I will make it multiple choice and tell them "answer yes /no or don't know". Or perhaps I will tell them "the information you give WILL NOT be used against you and I could not care less if it wasn't 100% accurate."

Are our interactions becoming more serious that every question is taken seriously and answered as accurately as possible?
Or it is just that I am stuck with weird friends?
Or is there something seriously wrong with my questions?

( was feeling particularly bored this evening and thought this might provoke some of you to share similar experiences. Otherwise my friends are not all that weird.Their only weirdness is that they continue to be my friends!)
12 Responses
  1. Hip Grandma Says:

    I suggest that you read the visitor's tag story.she admits that she has the habit of answering a qn. with a counter question.I found it amusing.I once misplaced my purse and asked my friend to check if it was at her place.She took offense and countered me with a qn.of her own-"would I not return it if it was here?" I felt bad for asking such a qn.The irony was that the purse was found a day later behind the sofa in her house and she returned it to me with a sheepish grin.

  2. Nothing weird in being your friend at all.. :)
    And its funny... people thinking so much before answering... I would never be able to do it.. :)

  3. Anonymous Says:

    If answers can be analysed, one can find that it goes deeper than that. Certain insecuritites people have in them get reflected in the answers they give.Humans are are after all, a complex lot. Most often, if we a look a little deeper into the answers, we will find them to be defensive rejoinders rather than true answers.It kind of reflects the person's thought process.(please don't psycho analyse my comment)Hi...Hi..

  4. passerby55 Says:

    don't get serious with it , USha.

    try doing some for yourself, answering a question with another question...this is how communication grows.

    you should hear how a conversation between a customer care executive and the customer goes on.... no answers are derived only queries after queries.

    lol..... "Just CHill", usha

  5. Mahadevan Says:

    I can tell from my experience that more than 50 percent of the problems we face are communication related ones. By communication I mean, not merely spoken words, but also body language, gestures, timeliness in response, context, failure to understand the intention of the question etc. In the example given by you, for an innocent question like if had made many friends in the U.S., without understanding the intent, your friend wanted to tell you the exact number or he showed his unplesantness, or helplessness in answering the question.

    As correctly pointed out by Shalini, certain insecurities people have get reflected in their answers. Anxieties, apprehensions, mindsets also cause problems. Two days back, I made a calculation mistake due to a mindset and however I tried, I could not satisfy others that my mistake was due to a mindset.

    Sometimes, to avoid communication problems, one has to reflect properly and respond, like the Japanese example you have given. It may avoid a complex situation, but communication would loose its charm.

    Spontaneity is the soul of personal communications, with all its shortcomings.

  6. Usha Says:

    hello all, Thanks for your comments.
    I am not hassled by the responses and like i said it was just an entry on a boring evening.
    Some of these could be a result of a question badly framed or communicated or the result of the others' insecurities.
    But it does seem like spontaneity is going out of our conversations.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    A friend who lives in Delhi and visits Chennai occassionally, is acutely aware of the tendency of suto-drivers in Chennai to overcharge if the passenger doesn't know Tamil. So, when said friend gets into an auto in Chennai, he asks the driver, " Tamil Theriyumma?" ( "Do you know tamil"), inviting puzzled looks from the driver. Pre-emptive question.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Usha. My stock question to one and all is " All well?". Invariably, people are too polite to say "No" and tell me their problems, if any! So much for concern by me and the state of how rushed people are in todays world!

  9. Usha Says:

    ravi: next time you ask me that question, well, you asked for it!

    Wildreeds: :) back!

  10. I see you are indeed very bored, and have let your mind wander, Now that it has grazed a little, do you feel better? LOL

  11. Usha Says:

    JLT: Absolutely! Why else do you think I blog, hehehe?