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What? Am I actually going to give you the advice to start irritating people? Yes I do. I want to advice you to stop answering questions. Don’t do it anymore.

Instead of answering – start firing questions back

There is a person in the history of man kind who is famous for never answering a question. Still, he is one of the greatest minds that has ever lived on our tiny planet. The person I mean is Socrates. Socrates is famous for his rethoric games. He never answered a person who came with a question. He made the person answer it himself. You need to go back to the very basics of your question. Why are you asking this right now? Why? Why? Never stop with the why.

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing – Socrates

I’ve discussed the principle of answering questions before. I believe that if you want to truly help somebody, you shouldn’t answer questions for them. You should give them the answer straight ahead. This is because people will only think of you as somebody who knows a lot, so they will return to you with more questions. Not one time, but for the rest of the time you know them. You will become the person who answers questions.

For instance, as said before, I am in the Executive Board of an international (bio)medical student conference. This means I am working at our office a lot of the time. And somehow, they see in me the ‘computer-guy’. Whether it is because I am a little bit of a geek or that they are just computer illiterate, it happened. So with all the questions concerning a computer (compressing a file, problems with Microsoft word or whatever) they come straight to me. At first, I responded, helped and recieved the ‘thank-you’ afterwards. But I don’t think I should be doing something for them all the time. Especially with computer problems, there is a lot you can find out by yourself, because you can look everything up on the internet!

So from a certain point, a couple of weeks ago, I stopped with answering their questions. I gave them a method to find it out theirselves. When there is a question (‘Stefan, how should I compress a PDF file?’) I go to Let Me Google That For You.  By doing this, I receive a link (in this case: http://tinyurl.com/29zg3oc) which I can share. This shows how easy it is to Google something and I don’t have to do it anymore!

Remember being a toddler?

Back to the original point: answering questions with more questions. This was what we did years ago. If you see your little nephew, he will most likely ask you ‘why’ all the time. You: ‘I am going to walk the dog.’ He: ‘Why?’ You: ‘Because the dog needs to do a pipi!’ He: ‘Why?’ You: ‘Because the dog drank a lot.’ He: ‘Why?’ You: ‘Because he was thursty.’ He: ‘Why?’ You: ‘BECAUSE!’

Really irritating, but this is exactly the way how we created our knowledge. We’ve wondered about EVERYTHING. When we are little, we question everything. We need to be little children again, to learn more, more and even more. To question everything again, so we can find the real reason behind everything around us. Asking ‘Why?’ more will result in more knowledge.

For now. Get out. Start talking to people and don’t answer questions. Only bring them up! Good luck.

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