Author Topic: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else  (Read 3419 times)

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oceanus

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Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« on: February 08, 2013, 01:52:35 PM »
Ever notice how when you ask someone a question (and make it clear who you’re talking to) how some people seem compelled to butt in and answer for that person?  It happens IRL and online.  The excuse is “I’m just trying to help”, but I still say it’s rude.  If the other person needs “help” answering they can ask for it.
   
I think people should be allowed to speak for themselves.

Examples:

1)  “Jane, nice to see you.  So you say you can only stay a few minutes?”
Before Jane can open her mouth, the person she is with says “She has a long drive and she’s nervous about getting caught in rush hour traffic”.  Then when the other person takes a breath Jane says “I’m not nervous.  It’s just that I have to stop a couple more places before getting on the road.”

2)  “OP, you said in your first post that your mother has trouble getting the items from the garage.  Any particular reason?”
Someone replies “I think what the OP probably means is that her mother is elderly and blah blah blah yada yada yada.”
Later OP comes back and answers the question and it turns out age is not a factor.

3)  “Bob, do you like apple pie?”
Someone jumps right in with “He likes it but he’s trying to lose weight.”

What I often do is say “Oh. I was asking Jane” or “I was directing my question to (name of OP) [versus tossing it out there for anyone to guess at]”. 
Or, “So Bob, you ddidn't get a chance to answer - you do like apple pie?”
(Bob mentions he's not that fond of fruit pies.)

How do you handle this?


m2kbug

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2013, 02:22:55 PM »
Funny, just the other day I interjected myself on a Q&A.  :)  It was at the grocery store and the clerk didn't know where the product was located (probably didn't even know what it was), but I was right there and I knew.   :)  Okay, not the same thing.

I think I would probably just acknowledge the interjector (say "okay" maybe) and then look to the person who I originally asked:

"So pie?  Yes?  No?"   

"So how long do you think you can stay, Jane?  Do you have time for a cup of coffee?"

I know I've spoken for people before, but in the context that they get flubbered or feel uncomfortable speaking up in new environments or with new people.  I hope I had a good enough feel for the situation that it was appropriate :-\

I think with the online forum, probably depending on the topic, adding "what ifs" to their own experiences or what they read to be the problem isn't necessarily rude.  These forums are largely for sharing ideas and experiences and may bring up something we may not have considered before.  It's really the OP's explanation that matters.  I think it would be rude if the person who "spoke for" someone else refused to accept their way is not THE way and created a ruckus over it. 

TootsNYC

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2013, 02:28:13 PM »
My whole family does this. It's something we're trying to break.

My friend gets extra mad when she's trying to have a convo w/ my kids and we answer for them.

At work, I am really, really working on this. I have snapped my mouth shut midsentence and said, "sorry" and turned my back on the people in the convo.


MOM21SON

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2013, 02:31:56 PM »
The lady that manages our cafeteria at work does this all the time and many of use are purchasing less and less.

The cook/server has been there about a year,  He does a good job and is very personable. 

"Hi Bob!  What are you having today?" 

She will yell the answer from no matter where she is, even if she is ringing someone up at the register.

I always look at my coworker and say, "Is she named Bob too?"

It is very annoying.

Edited because I meant to/ instead of type slash.

oceanus

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2013, 02:33:52 PM »
Quote
I think I would probably just acknowledge the interjector (say "okay" maybe) and then look to the person who I originally asked:

"So pie?  Yes?  No?"   

This is good.  Much better than "I was talking to Bob."

MrTango

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2013, 02:38:38 PM »
It depends on the situation.

In business, sometimes the person to whom the question is addressed is not the person who should be answering.  If the person who should be answering the question speaks up, I don't see a problem with that.

For example, a member of the media asks a store employee for information about a recent incident, and the manager jumps in and answers or deflects the question before the employee has a chance to respond.  I don't think that's rude on the manager's part.

Also, I feel that a parent answering for their minor child is okay in pretty much any situation except casual conversation.

In personal interaction, I think unless the person being addressed uses some verbal or nonverbal queue to direct another person to answer, then it's rude to answer when someone else has been directly addressed.  What that happens, I usually don't acknowledge the interjector, but repeat my question to the person I was addressing.

ETA the bolded.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2013, 02:41:14 PM by MrTango »

snowdragon

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2013, 02:40:02 PM »
Funny, just the other day I interjected myself on a Q&A.  :)  It was at the grocery store and the clerk didn't know where the product was located (probably didn't even know what it was), but I was right there and I knew.   :)  Okay, not the same thing.

This is exactly what I thought of! I did this last night at a Cafe. Some one was asking about the "big Sandwich things" ( emphasis on the sandwich by them) and not only were there three things that answered to that description - the barista could not see what they were pointing to - I told them the barista that they were asking after the Panini's and it went from there.
   
I do this sometimes for Children that I am in charge of , but for adults it's rude, imho Unless the person being asked is not the owner of what's being asked about.

Bob: Kris, can I use the kindle

Andi: Actually, it's mine and I'd rather you didn't.

if Bob were then to repeat to Kris

"So, can I use the Kindle?" Bob would be horribly rude.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2013, 02:42:36 PM by snowdragon »

oceanus

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2013, 02:50:36 PM »
It depends on the situation.

In business, sometimes the person to whom the question is addressed is not the person who should be answering.   If the person who should be answering the question speaks up, I don't see a problem with that.

For example, a member of the media asks a store employee for information about a recent incident, and the manager jumps in and answers or deflects the question before the employee has a chance to respond.  I don't think that's rude on the manager's part.

Also, I feel that a parent answering for their minor child is okay in pretty much any situation except casual conversation.

In personal interaction, I think unless the person being addressed uses some verbal or nonverbal queue to direct another person to answer, then it's rude to answer when someone else has been directly addressed.  What that happens, I usually don't acknowledge the interjector, but repeat my question to the person I was addressing.

ETA the bolded.


Yes, sometimes in business situations it’s different (such as the example you gave about the media).

Years ago I was on a panel and someone (who knew me) addressed me by name and asked a question.  Frankly, I didn’t know the answer, so I looked at my co-worker (who was more familiar with the subject matter), raised my eyebrows in a “can you help me out?” way, and he took over and answered.

Now, if co-worker had said "oh, she's not familiar with that, so I'll answer the question", that would have been rude.

Lynn2000

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2013, 05:36:20 PM »
Examples:

1)  “Jane, nice to see you.  So you say you can only stay a few minutes?”
Before Jane can open her mouth, the person she is with says “She has a long drive and she’s nervous about getting caught in rush hour traffic”.  Then when the other person takes a breath Jane says “I’m not nervous.  It’s just that I have to stop a couple more places before getting on the road.”

2)  “OP, you said in your first post that your mother has trouble getting the items from the garage.  Any particular reason?”
Someone replies “I think what the OP probably means is that her mother is elderly and blah blah blah yada yada yada.”
Later OP comes back and answers the question and it turns out age is not a factor.

3)  “Bob, do you like apple pie?”
Someone jumps right in with “He likes it but he’s trying to lose weight.”

How do you handle this?

When it comes to #2--something that might happen on a forum like this one--I think it's not so bad. It's not "real time" and the question might just hang there if the OP doesn't come back for a while, and then the OP might miss it anyway if there's a lot of new replies. Of course, everyone who speculates risks looking silly if the OP comes back and says, "Actually, that's not the issue."

I think the best people can do is try to give measured replies that don't assume facts not in evidence, so to speak--maybe say, "I don't want to speak for the OP, but I was imagining that it was because her mother was elderly, in which case I would suggest... But, that may not be relevant here." I think that forum threads aren't just for the OP, they're for everyone reading them (whether posting or not), and someone's speculation may be helpful to a lurker who has the same problem, except her mother really is elderly. That shouldn't be an excuse to stray wildly off-topic or put words in someone's mouth, of course.

I think in the case of #1, there's no need for "you" to really do anything, as Jane starts speaking for herself when she gets the chance, and corrects the other person's information. If Jane and the other person want to have words about it later, that's their business and not anyone else's.

In the case of #3, I would also assume Bob is capable of speaking up for himself if he wanted to, whether to correct the other person or agree with them. If the question was more like, "Bob, would you like some apple pie?" that is, the answer affects my actions (to serve him a piece or not), I would probably kind of nod in acknowledgment of the third party, but then look back at Bob questioningly for the final response. That is, I wouldn't put the pie away without hearing from Bob directly on the subject.

For #1 and #3, I will admit that such behavior would probably give me a somewhat negative impression of the third party, especially if they did it a lot. But, I wouldn't see it as my place to jump in and defend Jane/Bob or correct the situation somehow. At most, if the situation warranted it, I would (as in #3) continue looking expectantly at the person I had originally addressed. That's just me, though.
~Lynn2000

Sharnita

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2013, 05:41:46 PM »
#1 interests me because it sounds like trying to talk/invite Jane into staying longer.  If she is with somebody they would be impacted by the change in schedule.  I could see why whty would interject and why they might try to use a soically acceptable excuse,

kitchcat

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2013, 05:44:14 PM »
I've been guilty of this every so often.  :-[ I find I usually do it when the person who is addressed has a tendency to make a short answer into a looooooong answer (*cough* my father).

I think it's rude if you interject into a conversation based on personal experience/opinion, but less rude if it's a more general question. Like if A asked B, "Did you like that book?" and C interjects, "B said she hated it!" I vote rude. But if A asked B, "B, do you know what time the bus comes?" and C interjects "It comes at 2pm," I'd say that's less of an offense. The answer didn't *need* to come from B, but C should have given B a chance to answer.

If someone interjects, you could say, "Thank you, but I was asking so-and-so." If you're the one who was cut off, you could jokingly say "You don't need to answer for me, I can talk."
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TylerBelle

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2013, 06:38:22 PM »
I've been guilty of this every so often.  :-[ I find I usually do it when the person who is addressed has a tendency to make a short answer into a looooooong answer (*cough* my father).

I think it's rude if you interject into a conversation based on personal experience/opinion, but less rude if it's a more general question. Like if A asked B, "Did you like that book?" and C interjects, "B said she hated it!" I vote rude. But if A asked B, "B, do you know what time the bus comes?" and C interjects "It comes at 2pm," I'd say that's less of an offense. The answer didn't *need* to come from B, but C should have given B a chance to answer.

If someone interjects, you could say, "Thank you, but I was asking so-and-so." If you're the one who was cut off, you could jokingly say "You don't need to answer for me, I can talk."

This is what I dislike. When something is shared with someone, like not caring much for a book, or a food item, or a style of clothing, etc., then having that announced out loud when asked directly. Such as if you were at a dinner party where blackeyed-peas were served, and a person also there who knows you don't care much for them, announces that loudly at the table. Nice little mood spoiler there.

I agree that if another person answers a more general question, like the time, etc., is less offensive. Though the askee should be given a chance to reply.
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oceanus

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2013, 06:50:04 PM »
Quote
Such as if you were at a dinner party where blackeyed-peas were served, and a person also there who knows you don't care much for them, announces that loudly at the table. Nice little mood spoiler there.

Or when someone knows you're trying to take off weight they say "Uh oh.  Too many calories for (whoever)".

Or "X has diabetes, can't eat (whatever)."

Let the person speak/decide for themselves.

m2kbug

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2013, 07:10:31 PM »
#1 interests me because it sounds like trying to talk/invite Jane into staying longer.  If she is with somebody they would be impacted by the change in schedule.  I could see why whty would interject and why they might try to use a soically acceptable excuse,

I didn't see "manipulating" (for lack of a better word) Jane for a longer stay at all in this example.  I think I would, however, prefer my host thinks I'm afraid to drive in the dark, rather than being less important than running a half a dozen errands, or maybe I just don't want to stay. ;)  Maybe the interjector was trying to field this faux paux. 

Of course "a million other things I need to do" would depend on the rel@tionship, because if you live in a place that doesn't have store A and store B, and you're back home and you want to head out and go to these stores before they close, and you also have to be home for work the next day, it's totally acceptable and understandable that Jane needs to head out. 

The OP knew Jane was on limited time, the reasons were not important and there really was no reason to bring up the details, whether by Jane or the interjector.  I didn't see it as fishing for more time, but more fishing for how long she could stay.  :)

Coley

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Re: Jumping in to answer a question directed at someone else
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2013, 11:18:37 AM »
It depends on the situation.

In business, sometimes the person to whom the question is addressed is not the person who should be answering.  If the person who should be answering the question speaks up, I don't see a problem with that.

For example, a member of the media asks a store employee for information about a recent incident, and the manager jumps in and answers or deflects the question before the employee has a chance to respond.  I don't think that's rude on the manager's part.

Also, I feel that a parent answering for their minor child is okay in pretty much any situation except casual conversation.

In personal interaction, I think unless the person being addressed uses some verbal or nonverbal queue to direct another person to answer, then it's rude to answer when someone else has been directly addressed.  What that happens, I usually don't acknowledge the interjector, but repeat my question to the person I was addressing.

ETA the bolded.

I have a question about the business-related scenario. In a meeting, Person A asks Person B a question. Person B is the appropriate person to answer the question. However, Superior Person jumps in and answers the question before Person B can open his mouth. An added bonus is that Superior Person does not have the depth of knowledge on the topic that Person B has.