Tuesday, February 13, 2007


My mother, quoting her mother... who for all I know was quoting HER mother, always said:

If you don't want to hear the answer, don't ask the question.

I attribute that quote to my grandmother. Today I changed my signature quote line on ScrapShare to that quote. It seemed appropriate.

I ask a lot of questions in my job as a tax preparer. Some questions are surprisingly difficult for my clients to answer. Like.... "what is your child's birth date?" It's a stumper to far too many people. It's also hard to remember one's child's last name.

Some questions I ask and they throw it back to me to answer.

"How much did you give to charity?" I ask.

"How much is normal?" they ask me.

I swear.... one of these days I'm gonna say "Bill and Melinda Gates gave a couple of mil last year. You?".

Having grown up with my mother quoting my grandmother, I know better than to ask questions when I don't want to know the answer. And I don't. So it takes some getting used to dealing with those who haven't heard the wisdom of my maternal family line. People ask a question. I give them an answer because it just doesn't occur to me that they don't want to hear the answer.

I find it puzzling too. Why ask if you don't want to hear the answer? What is the purpose? These aren't rhetorical questions. These are actual questions. What is wanted is only answers that the questioner agrees with or wants to hear.

I guess it's like that proverbial wife question: "Honey, do these pants make me look fat?" Men know the answer is "no", even if it makes her ass look like a double wide. It took my husband years to fully understand that I'm asking because if they DO make me look fat he better tell me. If it looks bad on me... TELL. ME. Because if I didn't want to hear the answer, I wouldn't have asked the question.

I don't understand the thinking, invariably female, that says "tell me a lie instead of the truth if the truth is something I don't like". The thinking that says "I'd rather go out looking like hell than to be told the truth and make a change."

I guess it comes down to hidden agendas. The other day at work my boss and a co-worker said "With Nancy, you know where you stand." They were giving me grief cause I was giving it to my boss. Good natured ribbing.... But it's true and I've heard it more than once. Not always so good naturedly. There are those who down right do. not. like. me. because I have answered their question and they didn't want to hear it. And that would be my fault for the answering, never their's for the asking.

There was a hidden agenda. They wanted to be told they were doing the right thing. They wanted to be justified. That's fine. But don't ask if you are doing the right thing if you ONLY want to be told you are. I always think that if you have to ask, you are questioning and are thinking somewhere deep inside that you are not doing the right thing. I realize that it's tough to be told you aren't. I've certainly been told so many times in my life!

I said something off the cuff many months ago and someone quoted me back to me. Not saying it to me, but saying "whoohoo! I get to use my favorite quote of yours!" and told me what it was. Cracked me right up. It went something like this....

When several people, people who usually can't agree that the sun will rise tomorrow, tell you that your slip is showing, it is probably a good idea to retire to the ladies room and examine your outfit.

And so I add onto my grandmother's wisdom....

Don't ask the question if you don't want to hear the answer, and when you ask and get the same answer from different quarters, it might not be what you WANT to hear, but what you NEED to hear.

My mom says it was her mother's philosophy, but her one-liner. Now we both know! ;)

1 comment:

Dirpus said...

Your new outfit looks good on you. Really.