We have all been treated this way and no one ever likes it. When someone has an idea stuck in their craw so badly, they slam the door shut on new ideas or information. We all do it occasionally; we ask questions so specific and targeted, that the only response possible is one that supports our opinion. You know what I mean.
It is much like a District Attorney in a court room. The questions are not in search of the truth; they are cleverly constructed to specifically convict the person of the crime. In most cases, there is a boatload of information which supports a conviction and probably just as much that doesn’t. The DA will only ask questions that are very myopic and only allow for incriminating answers. The testimony will only reveal a fraction of the truth and perhaps a lot of misinformation. Some of it is just dead wrong.
This happens in business just as much as it does in the courtroom. Maybe not as intentionally or cleverly constructed, but just as much disconnected from reality as a DA on a witch hunt. You may not even realize you’re doing it; a lot of it can be subconscious.
Have you ever done this? Have you had your mind so made up that your line of questioning could only generate answers you wanted to hear? You could probably prove that oxygen is not necessary for survival as long as your questions are designed to drive that conclusion.
If you are an engineer, or work with them, you know you have to be very careful how you ask the question. They will do their best (usually) to answer it honestly and straight forward. However the same question asked 10 slightly different ways can usually result in 10 dramatically different answers.
So next time you are hell bent you’re right about something, stop for a minute and take a breather. Ask yourself if you’ve built a wall to block out valuable information by the way you’re slanting the discussion. Ask a series of questions that might even suggest the opposite of how you feel. See where the discussion leads. You might just realize your position was foolish.
Just keep in mind, when you think you have all the information you need to make a decision, you can’t possibly know a fraction of it. There is so much information available you couldn’t possibly know the entire truth. Nothing is ever black and white.
If you want to maintain a healthy and creative organization, keep this in mind next time your mind is already made up. Try and look at things from several points of view before moving forward. It can really prevent bad decisions and it just might put you on a more favorable path than the one you were on. And just as important; people will respect you for it.