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Never ask a question that you don't already know the answer to?

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Friday, June 20, 2014
Updated: Friday, June 20, 2014

Never ask a question that you don't already know the answer to?

I believe the description "stranded preposition" is how English Majors and my former teacher's might describe the use of "to" at the end of the title. In case it is still not proper or fashionable even if invoking artistic license, I ask their forgiveness in advance.

But about the title. Is it a saying you've heard before? I've seen movie references to it but in most web searches it seems to have originated within the legal profession specifically a rule related to cross-examination of witnesses. I think it's a good saying so I'm applying it to government contracting. Imagine that. Why would I do that you ask? Potentially to increase efficiency which can mean less costs and more profits, and frankly to eliminate a level of frustration for folks in Government and Industry.

This isn't meant to quash learning since that's often a basis of asking questions, but I believe there is the matter of initiative which is often lacking when it comes to our industry.

Want an example of the type of question to which I'm referring?

Have you or someone you know ever asked the question "What does your agency buy?" during a call or meeting with a representative of that agency? Ever asked another industry rep 'what agencies their company does business with?' It's not to say these are bad or inappropriate questions but unless that encounter was an impromptu one (as in passing on the street) shouldn't you already know this? There's nothing wrong with bringing it up during the course of the conversation to confirm your findings, that's called validation.

Unfortunately, too many don't subscribe to this philosophy. I see, hear and am told about it every day by colleagues in Government and Industry. Is being perceived as incapable of or unwilling to do research in advance of a meeting really the first impression you want to make? It happens everyday and it's usually not the best use of time for all involved. I compare it to the 'dog and pony show' presentation where company reps spend the first twenty minutes of a thirty minute meeting espousing the attributes of their organization instead of addressing a specific issue, program or requirement. It's a waste of time.

Not only is information like this pervasive, it's most often freely accessible. By 'doing your homework' in advance, you position yourself and your organization to be better prepared to make the most of important face-to-face opportunities. By getting answers to questions like these in advance, you stand to gain more tangible insights versus rudimentary information.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

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