Sometimes you have to hear a new idea several times before real thinking starts.
We get so used to trying to dispatch questions quickly (and ideas often ride the backs of good questions) we forget the most important part of a question – the part where you stop and think before you answer.
It’s amazing how many people answer important questions instantly. If their answer is right, it’s not because they thought hard about the answer to the question in the moment. Maybe they thought about it when they heard the question years ago, but perhaps something has changed? And if it’s their first time with a big question, how can they be confident in their first answer?
I’ve learned I sometimes need to hear a question a few times before I deeply understand what is being asked, and why there isn’t an easy answer, despite how much I’d like one of my old answers to work for the new question. For that reason, although they can be annoying, I know there is value in people who keep asking me the same important questions. If I’m getting wiser, shouldn’t I keep finding better answers? Or notice when I’ve had the same answer for years?
I also know when someone says to me “are you ok?”, no matter what is going on, I have almost never in my life said No, even when I was not OK. I didn’t stop to think, as I was afraid thinking would lead to feeling and I didn’t want to think or feel in that moment. I suspect the same thing happens for may of us, on a smaller scale, for all sorts of questions all the time.
In some situations the first, second or even third answer isn’t going to be the most honest, or the most useful. It might take someone hitting you with that question many times before you truly start to think about it. Same for new ideas or frames of thinking of any kind.
I used to respect people who were masters of the quick answer. But as I get older it seems the masters of quick answers are often just masters of facts. Trivia. Other people’s theories. Now I think when it comes to matters of importance, these are people to fear. I agree there is definitely a time for fast thinking, but when I look around it seems slow thinking is the path to many of the things we claim we want.