I believe people often feel like they need to have “an answer” to give others when asked about certain things. As a result, people do things that provide an acceptable explanation, and buy themselves time without being held accountable. 

Examples of this include:
> Q: “What are you doing about X department?” A: “We are hiring a new person.” or “We’re going to reorganize.”

> Q: “When are you going to get married/have a baby/buy a house?” A: “We need to see what happens with the economy.”

> Q: “How are you resolving X problem?” A: “We formed a committee to address it.” or “We have a meeting about that next week.”

> Q: “When are you going to do that thing you always talk about?” A: “It’s on my bucket list.”

> Q: “Have you found a job yet?” A: “I sent out resumes and am waiting to hear.”

Even though the answer is just a place holder, people seduce themselves into believing that action is occurring. Forming a committee may eventually address the problem, but the problem still continues right now. Those resumes may ultimately lead to a job, but the actual answer is “no, I have not found a job yet.” The real truth is uncomfortable, so people become masterful at the non-answers that are conversationally acceptable responses.

It’s legitimate to evade the issues in chit chat as not everyone who asks deserves a comprehensive reply. But if you find yourself believing the answer you give, it’s time to stop the song and dance and own up to the hard reality.

beth triplett

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