(from the forthcoming book “Dove Notes”)
You can often avoid unnecessary debate with your significant other by simply answering a question clearly and completely the first time it is asked. Ambiguous responses are typically unacceptable, and answering a question with a question is borderline abomination.
Some conversations become unnecessarily convoluted because of miscommunication, assumption and hurt feelings. Many times this byproduct is completely unintentional, but left unchecked, conflict becomes equally unavoidable.
The key to avoiding this pitfall is to make sure you fully understand the question being asked before you answer. Try to connect with the underlying motive for the question being asked. Realize that the person is trying to gather very specific information from you. It’s your job to identify what info they are requesting and then answer that question directly.
Here are a few examples:
Do you want to go dancing?
CORRECT: “Yes” or “No” INCORRECT: “I don’t mind”, or, “I’m not a good dancer”
Are you hungry?
CORRECT: “Yes” or “No” INCORRECT: “I could eat”, or, “Are you cooking?”
Did you call my father back yet?
CORRECT: “Yes” or “No” INCORRECT: “Why, did he call you?”, or, “You know I’ve had a busy day”
If you fail to answer the question directly, your purely innocent conversation that otherwise would have lasted maybe 15 seconds, will now consume the better part of a day… or more, depending on how utterly clueless and insensitive your response was considered to be.