Ever ask a simple Yes or No question and get an overly complicated response that you didn’t know what to do with because it never got around to providing the Yes or No answer?
Have you ever replied a simple Yes or No question with an overly complicated response that left the person who asked the question more confused than they were before they asked you the question?
Your job is to make things less complicated for your clients
The are many reasons why you might overcomplicate a response to a question, and that’s usually because things are almost always more complicated than than they first appear, but your job is to help your clients make intelligent decisions by distilling complex concepts into easy to understand explanations. This way your customers don’t have to go take college night courses to become experts in every industry they have to do business with in the course of a work day.
I’ve always found it easier to answer a question with a potentially complicated answer by asking one or two questions of my own to help narrow down a specific application of the knowledge they’re attempting to access.
A few of the responses I use include:
- There are a couple of ways I can answer that question… Can you give a little more context to why you’re asking?
- Are you asking this question because of [TOPIC 1] or are you asking about it as it relates to [TOPIC 2]?
- The answer is Yes if [A], but it could be No if [B] — can you give me a little more information about your scenario?
Another way to let people know there is a complicated back story to the answer they’re seeking is to simply ask them if they want the the long answer or the short answer.
They’ll almost always ask for the short answer first, but about 60% of the time they’ll ask a follow-up question seeking the longer answer. It’s because you gave them an answer as they requested, and now that the void has been filled in their curiosity their brain can start gathering additional information for process and comparison.
Think back to an algebra class you took in school.
Sometimes the teacher just wanted to see the answer to an equation you were solving, and other times they wanted to “see the work” — all the complicated little calculations that went into solving the problem and arriving at your final answer.
It’s the same when your customers ask you a question; you need to determine whether or not they just want the final answer or if they want to see the work.
When in doubt, give the answer and then ask if they want to see the work. Usually they’ll be curious as to the information that went into answering the question and you’ll get to share all those complicated equations that you enjoy playing with as a professional in your field.