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„what a stupid question”

For me, it is much easier to work with someone, if I assume that the person on the other side is competent to do the job, but sometimes does not have a critical piece of information. This information is often obvious to me, but missing for some reason, to the other person.

When working on a globally distributed project I found that every time, when someone from my team was appalled by a „stupid question” from the remote office, it was the missing information scenario. Sometimes it was the other way around and we were the ones with the missing information, while the remote office thought it should be obvious for us. In such case, the question didn’t seem to make sense. What I learned to do, was to provide the best answer I could without understanding what is going on, but immediately after that, ask the remote office an easy question: why are they asking about that? Turns out that every time they had a good reason.

Often our willingness to answer the question instantly changed to a top priority.

Quite often after we understood the background of the question, our answer changed 180°.