My husband sometimes accuses me of answering a question with a question. And he’s right! I do that. Frequently.

There are a few reasons for this:

1. Getting context.

2. Helping THAT person dive deeper.

3. Understanding their WHY to make your answer, insights, etc. BETTER.

A friend who is a small business owner recently asked me a question about her business: “How would you feel if I combined my office with M (another small business owner)?” My response: “I’m fine with it. But, are YOU fine with it?? Are you happy connecting your business with their business? Fundamentally, you become partners with them. Does their work style, work ethic, and client base match what you have today and in the future? Will you be happy sharing your business space with them?”

The next day, we had a discussion about it. I asked and she answered a few more questions. I helped her figure out some options. And gave her tips on how to have the difficult conversation.

Here’s what’s really interesting:

She told me: “Thank you for your advice AND for giving me questions to think about. You were the ONLY person I asked that did that. Everyone else responded with a “That’s fine with me.” or “Sure.” without putting any more thought into it.” Or helping her process a critical decision.

Because really, when people ask you for advice, they are not really looking for your answer – they are looking for you to help them identify THEIR answer.

My recommendation: Ask the questions. Learn more to discover their WHY. More importantly, help your business partner (friend, colleague, client, supplier, mom, sister, brother) understand more about THEIR WHY, to help them get to answers that really connect with their core purpose and interests.

And, my friend who had this dilemma about her business… she came to the answer that worked for her (she didn’t want to move offices and combine businesses). She also better understood her own reasons and could articulate them. With that, she’s ready for her next opportunity.