Stop Asking Lazy Questions
Anyone who is resourceful will tell you, there are few things that grind our gears like someone tossing you a question before doing a modicum of research. And by that I mean anything that can be solved by LMGTFY.
People who enjoy helping, sharing, creating solutions almost can’t stop themselves from proffering advice. As an individual who is firmly in that camp, please let me tell you: lazy questions are exhausting and maddening.
Questions like “What restaurant should I go to? What book should I read next? Are there still tickets left for the game? When is the concert again?” are in and of themselves quite harmless and easy to answer. But imagine that scaling to 10 per day, 25 per day, 100 per day and you’ll have a sense of what its like to be the go-to person. On a good day, lazy questions are irritating and feel careless. On a bad day, lazy questions are likely to elicit frustration, snark and potentially a tirade.
Woe is me, right? Not really — I enjoy my peculiar status as a person with information and insight. There are other people that do too and they’re called consultants. They get paid for their time because that’s the tradeoff… their brains for your dollars. Of course, in the world of social norms, I’m not going to ask buds to pay me for answering a “quick” question. However, what I would ask for in exchange for my boooooundless (eyeroll) knowledge of allthethings is a Rodney Dangerfield-style respect. My mental machinations in exchange for respecting my time with a well thought out request.
This question: what’s the best restaurant to go to if I want a great date night, in the central area, that’s moderately priced and has a seafood-bent takes infinitely less time than the other, more open ended one. It also motivates me to answer and puts you definitively on my to do list.
All of this to say, we are all guilty of not doing the work. I certainly have been and likely will be again. But maybe a good way to approach someone you think is a great resource — be it a personal or a professional relationship — is to help them, help you. Mention the work you’ve already done, define the parameters of the assist you need and of course, be grateful for whatever is offered and you’ll always be the person I’m willing to spend time on.