Author Topic: You asked me a question, let me answer it before you ask secondary questions!!  (Read 3977 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Raintree

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5847
The "art of group conversation" thread got me thinking about this but I didn't want to hijack that thread.

I am a part of an organization that brings people together to do an activity of common interest (think Meetup, but it's not). As such, I'm always meeting new people.

There was one woman on an outing the other night who I thought talked a bit too much, but that's all part and parcel of joining groups. But she would ask me a question, and then not wait for the answer before asking another, related question, that she wouldn't have needed to ask had she waited to hear my answer.

Here's how it went:

Her: "Do you like your purple slippers?" (Not really purple slippers but a piece of equipment integral to the activity we were doing that evening).
Me: Yes, very much.
Her: "Oh, I was thinking of buying that kind so I wanted to see what you think of them since they're a bit pricey, I want to know if they are worth it."
Me: "Yes, I see you have the Green kind. Those are OK for Activity Z but if you are doing stuff like this, you'll probably find you're having Problem X."
Her: "Yes, that's exactly the problem I'm having with them. Where did you get yours?"

(Here's where the conversation got impossible):

Me: "I got them at Purple Store. But I got a good deal because..."
Her: "Oh are they cheaper at Purple?"
Me: "No, they are the same price, but I got a good deal because...."
Her: "Well how much were they?"
Me: "I can't remember, I got mine 3 years ago, but here's what you can do..."
Her: "So maybe around $300?"
Me: "Well maybe, I don't remember, but here's the thing, I got them used because......"
Her: "Oh, I didn't know Purple Store had used equipment!!"
Me: "They don't. I got mine used because they also rent Purple Slippers, and they sell off their rentals at the end of the season. So what I did..."
Her: "Oh!! So how much of a discount do they sell them at?"
Me: "Well I don't remember...but....what I did...."
Her: "So, like 20%?"
Me: "I really don't remember. But if you rent up to 5 times, you save your receipts and they will apply your rental fees to the cost of a purchase, and THEN....."
Her: "Oh! So you don't get a discount on the actual Purple Slippers, but your rental fee is applied to the purchase."
Me: "No. What I am saying is, I tried out different ones as rentals over the season to see if I liked them, and at the end, you can use what you paid for rentals towards a purchase. ANY purchase, new or used. They ALSO sell off their rentals at the end of the season, at a discount. So if you can buy one of their old rentals, you not only get a discount because it's used, but you can ALSO apply what you've paid for rentals that season and get a further discount. So I got a good deal because of the dual savings of using my rental fees AND getting a discount on their old rentals."

She understood that last, but my, what an effort to get it out!! I was trying to tell her how to save a few bucks on the Purple Slippers she wanted, but what a production to get enough "air time" to be allowed to explain it to her! Would it be rude to say, "Hang on, hang on, I'm trying to explain this to you"??

FWIW, I've had friends that do this too, and I find ANY conversation with them exhausting.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 09:53:39 PM by Raintree »

Yvaine

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8341
 ;D ;D ;D It sounds like she was having a whole conversation with an imaginary version of you who was saying completely different stuff!

doodlemor

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1980
I could be that she has trouble meeting new people, and was very nervous of you.  Maybe she will improve with time - or maybe not.

She does seem exhausting.

lollylegs

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 521
My mother in law does this and it drives. me. crazy. I've started saying, "Well just let me finish the story and you'll find out."  Works about 50% of the time.

Free Range Hippy Chick

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 526
And the business version of this as well: my client's CEO calls me to ask what happened with the sprockthrucket they bought three years ago. Did they buy it outright, or was it on some sort of lease purchase deal? It's at the OtherTown site and they've had an offer for it, but is it actually theirs to sell? Because they bought one and leased the other and which one is which? The bought one went to ThisTown originally, and then both of them went to ThirdTown, but which one came back to OtherTown? Also, the one they bought, what's the net book value of it now because the offer doesn't seem high enough given what a sprockthrucket costs new.

I say I don't know, but if she'll give me half an hour I'll go back through my records and find out which sprockthrucket is which.

Five minutes later, the Department Manager calls. The CEO has just been in to see him, and wants to know which of the sprockthruckets...

I tell him, trying not to be too sharp, because it isn't his fault, that the CEO has already asked me this, and I'm looking into it, and if they'll give me half an hour...

Five minutes after that the Secretary to the Board calls. The CEO has asked her to find out...

This time I'm really struggling not to be sharp, but I do point out that she is the third person to ask me this, that the notes are in my filing system, and that every time somebody telephones, I have to stop looking for them in order to answer the phone. (If I don't answer the phone, I'll come back to five messages from the same company, from people further and further down the food chain, all asking about sprockthrucket ownership.)

By the time I identify which sprockthrucket is theirs to sell, I have spent half an hour looking it up and the same time answering the phone (which is not my problem except for the bad effect on my temper, because I charge by the hour and calculate the charge in minutes). The CEO has spent that same time scuttling from one person to another asking the same question, rather than sitting down, possessing her soul in patience, and maybe clearing her emails. At least two people - salaried, so she's paying them for their time - have stopped doing what they should be doing, and tried to find about about sprockthrucket ownership. Neither of them is in any way responsible for the purchase, maintenance or legal ownership of company assets so they simply will not know. They have no way of finding out, other than by doing what the CEO has already done and asking me.

It's not etiquette-approved (nor is it good business practice) for me to say 'stop behaving like a flipping toddler! Don't nag, don't whine, and don't ask Daddy just because Mummy isn't giving you the answer you want!'

I feel better now.

shadowfox79

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2779
Free Range Hippy Chick, I get that all day. I work with university students. Their preferred MO is one of two methods.

  • Email me, get an answer they don't like, email someone else who forwards it to me, email another person...
  • Email everyone they've ever heard of with the same question, all of whom forward the email to me so I arrive at work to find twenty emails asking the same bloody thing.

I hate my job sometimes.

ThatGirl

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 29
Arrgh, that's one of my pet peeves! I used to work in a call centre and can't tell you how frustrating it was to have a customer who wanted me to solve their problem, and then when I began to answer the first question they'd asked they would launch another one at me, and another and another. Eventually I hit on the technique of going quiet and waiting for them to ask 'Are you still there?', at which point I'd say 'Yes, sorry, I was just waiting until you finished speaking. Now, the answer to your first question is...' I acknowledge that this one works best over the phone though!
My mum has similar tales to tell - she used to work for a company that rented out student housing and would field initial enquiry calls from students (and more often than not, their parents). They would, understandably, want to know a lot of information about the accommodation and services but would bombard her with more and more questions before she'd finished answering the previous one. I get the impression that these people want to seem well-informed and knowledgeable, but do it by pretending to know or guessing what you're going to say in the hope that you'll respond with 'Yes, exactly that! We're so on the same page, you and I!' I suppose you could take it as a compliment - she might have been trying to impress you!x

Thipu1

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6319
Yes, yes, yes.  This is an occupational hazard that Librarians face all the tme. 

A patron comes to the Ref desk with an odd question.  The person at the desk is trying to find where the answer can be found while the patron keeps firing off more and more questions.

  That sort of  thing is usually counter-productive. By the time the answer to the original question is found, the patron has asked at least a half-dozen more and is not satisfied.  A librarian stationed at the Ref desk can easily go mad and the patron thinks the librarian does not want to help.

We want to help but we need to work with one question at a time. 

Give us a break, please. 

Lynn2000

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4131
Yeah, I've had this happen to me, and I've probably been guilty of doing it a few times myself.  ::) More with the business examples, I think (some) people want to show that they've thought about the problem themselves and some of the possible answers, rather than making the other person start afresh thinking of possibilities, and they just aren't phrasing the whole thing right.

Like, "Where is X? Do you think it's in the closet or the drawer or the other room or have we run out or do I need to borrow it from someone else?" And then the other person is sitting there, just waiting for them to finish, and pulls X out from under their desk. But obviously the asker had no clue X was there, and for some reason they felt that just saying, "Where is X?" was putting all the burden of brainstorming on the other person.

Okay, that's a charitable interpretation. :) I would just sit quietly and wait for the person to stop talking, then try to address their questions (IF they ever stop). My boss has a tendency to start out asking one question, then as her monologue progresses she answers the question herself, changes her mind, comes up with a different answer, and ends by asking a totally different question.  :P Or sometimes (my favorite) realizing there's nothing she needs from me and walking away again.

For the OP's social situation--it could be the woman was just nervous, and was trying to be an "active listener" and ask questions, except she was forgetting the actual "listener" part. Personally I really hate being interrupted and tend to just stop talking when it happens; so the woman might have found that she actually didn't get the complete, accurate information from me, because I decided it was easier to just say "yes" or "yeah, about $300" rather than fighting to explain the full situation. I think conversation shouldn't be that much work.
~Lynn2000

BeagleMommy

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2778
Free Range Hippy Chick, I get that all day. I work with university students. Their preferred MO is one of two methods.

  • Email me, get an answer they don't like, email someone else who forwards it to me, email another person...
  • Email everyone they've ever heard of with the same question, all of whom forward the email to me so I arrive at work to find twenty emails asking the same bloody thing.

Shadowfox, I see you and I work in the same department!  I get this constantly.  What I've found that helps (not all the time) is to say "Hold on, let me make sure I know what you're asking.  You want to know how many spaces are available in Dr. Purplebottom's class?"

I hate my job sometimes.

Winterlight

  • On the internet, no one can tell you're a dog- arf.
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 9431
I have been known to bring my hand up in the "STOP!" position and say, "Let me finish, please."
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls

girlysprite

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1001
  • I like big books, and I cannot lie
I have been known to bring my hand up in the "STOP!" position and say, "Let me finish, please."
Hammertime!

Sorry, I just had to :)
I am a bit of a blunt person (which is also part of the dutch culture I think) so I'm more likely to say 'Can I finish first before you continue?'

NotTheNarcissist

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 779
My in-laws do this. And then they wonder why I'm so quiet around them.

Piratelvr1121

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 10444
My middle son does this and it drives me up the wall.   Sometimes it's in the car so I can't always use my preferred method which is to stop talking, cross my arms and just look at him and when he says "What?" Then I say "When you're finished listening to the sound of your own voice let me know and I'll answer your question."  That's when he blushes and says "Okay, I'm done."

Mind you, the child's 10 so the technique probably won't work with an adult. ;)
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

O'Dell

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4372
When someone does something like this to me I start giving minimal answers and not volunteering any info.

Me: "I got them at Purple Store. But I got a good deal because..."
Her: "Oh are they cheaper at Purple?"
Me: "No, they are the same price, but I got a good deal because...."
Her: "Well how much were they?"
Me: "I can't remember, I got mine 3 years ago, but here's what you can do..."
Her: "So maybe around $300?"
Me: "Well maybe, I don't remember, but here's the thing, I got them used because......"
AT this point "Her" doesn't have anything more to work with, so you can end the conversation smoothly or resume giving more info. This seems to slow a person like her down and they return to more polite conversational style.
Her: "Oh, I didn't know Purple Store had used equipment!!"
Me: "They don't. I got mine used because they also rent Purple Slippers, and they sell off their rentals at the end of the season. So what I did..."
Her: "Oh!! So how much of a discount do they sell them at?"
Me: "Well I don't remember...but....what I did...."
Her: "So, like 20%?"


With the "librarian question" issues, I just straight tell people "Hold up! I can't multitask" Or "Wait, I can't read and/or write and/or listen at the same time! You can talk to me or I can look up the answer but not both!"
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman