If you have to ask the question, you already know the answer

A.T. Gimbel shares three real life situations that touch on this advice: if you have to ask the question, you already know the answer.

A.T. Gimbel
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February 16, 2021

Three example situations that will encourage you to make the move

There are many difficult decisions that come up when running a business, often without a clear answer. Humans are great at manipulating data in our head to make us support the decisions we already wanted to go with. One piece of advice I have heard a couple of times is: if you have to ask the question, you already know the answer. Here are three examples of situations where this applies.


Teams

Hiring folks to a team can be challenging; there are often many misfires. This could be due to values, abilities, or skills. When someone is not the right fit however, there is a tendency to want to try and make them better. That may be possible, but if efforts along those lines do not have an impact, replacing the person with someone who is a better fit for the organization can be beneficial to the company. If you have to ask the question, “Is this person a good fit for the organization?” you already know the answer is no. That question does not come up for teammates who are stars.


Communication

We have all read a message, email, or listened to a voicemail where someone said something they probably shouldn’t have. There are often times we should pause before sending those messages. Sometimes we do, but choose to not listen to the pause anyway. If you have to ask the question, “Should I send this message or is it worded appropriately?” you already know the answer is that it probably needs to be re-written. Take time to step away from that communication and review it once the emotion has died down. A lot of good will can be destroyed with one bad response.


Integrity

There are times in business and life where you come across gray areas. Should you let your boss know, should you tell your customers, is this morally or ethically ok? If you have to ask the question, “Will this compromise my integrity?” you already know the answer is yes. It takes years of good decisions to build up integrity, but only one bad decision to lose it.


As I’ve written before, look for ways to improve your decision making by gaining perspectives from more time, mentors, or external parties. But in many cases, if you have to ask the question you already know the answer.


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