Join Gretchen Rubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Questioners, part of Gretchen Rubin on Creating Great Workplace Habits.
- Are you the person who's always stopping the meeting to ask, "Why are we doing this anyway?" If so, you may be a Questioner. Questioners question all expectations. They will only meet an expectation if it meets their own standards. They hate anything inefficient, arbitrary, unfair. They want to know why they're doing something. They want to have justification. They want to have reasons. And they're driven mad by explanations like, "This is the way we've always done it." "Because I told you to." "It's the polite thing to do." They want to know why.
So, if this describes you, if you're the person who's always asking why. What are the strengths and the weaknesses of that? How does that affect your work in the workplace? Well, one is that Questioners love research. They love analysis, Excel spreadsheets are often around Questioners, and so they love to know more. But, Questioners sometimes then suffer from analysis paralysis. They want more information. They might want perfect information before making a work decision. But the thing is, in life, we often don't get to have perfect information.
Or maybe they want to research things for too long. So if you find yourself in analysis paralysis, or if you find yourself draining the people around you because you're asking incessant questions, some ways that you can manage your Questioner tendency to get the benefit of all of this wonderful research and questioning that you're doing, but not to get the downside of it, is to give yourself deadlines. I'm going to decide by the end of the week, and whatever I've figured out by then, that's going to be good enough. Or, I'm going to interview five people for this job, but not 10 people for this job.
Or, I'm going to look on these websites to decide whether this equipment is the right equipment for me to buy, but I'm not going to spend six months researching it. And the way to argue that, to take advantage of your Questioner tendency, is to say: It's inefficient for me to be pouring so much time and energy into this decision. I need to do this much work to justify my answers, but I can't do it endlessly. Because Questioners tend to love that process and they can get swept away into it. Now sometimes in the workplace, Questioners can seem to others to be uncooperative, or undermining.
Because they're the ones who walks in and the boss says, "This is the way we're going to do it." And the Questioner's like "Why are we doing it this way? "Why is it due on Friday? "Why are we using this software? "Why are we listening to you anyway?" And that can be seen as undermining. And so if that's you, be aware of the fact that your questions can come across that way, and also if you're managing Questioners, recognize the fact, they don't mean to be uncooperative, they don't mean to be undermining, they just want to know what are the reasons for what we're doing. And that's a very healthy thing for organizations, because it means it keeps everybody from wasting their time.
But it can take time and energy to answer those questions. But that's what needs to happen for the Questioners to come on board. Once they're convinced that something makes sense, they will meet an expectation effortlessly. But you have to give them the satisfaction, the justification for why things are being done in a certain way.