Fully recognising this is a somewhat passive-aggressive approach to take (:p), one often encounters incredibly ambiguous questions where the responder is either indirectly expected to, or passively forced to ask clarifying questions, e.g.
I'm trying to put together a chair by IKEA but it's not working. Any ideas?
or, the facebook classic:
Ugh, why me?
One approach is to simply attempt to clarify before giving an answer proper, by asking questions like "What is the problem exactly; did you take it out of the box; do you have enough screws; are you missing any parts?" etc etc ad nauseam. Or "sweetie what happened; are you ok; is it about work; did someone hurt you?" etc.
Another (admittedly, not better) approach is to answer the question with a trivial answer (or a series of trivial answers) that makes lots of specific assumptions which may well not be true; forcing the questioner to clarify further. e.g.
- "You need to take it out of the box first, silly"
- "Oh, I did. But I still can't put it together"
- "Ah. Well, there's probably not enough screws in the box then; call IKEA to complain!"
- "Oh it's not the screws"
- "Then what is it?!
- "It's ok, lots of people can't handle work pressure".
- "Oh this isn't about work"
- "Ah. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll find someone better"
- "Oh we haven't broken up"
- "Ah. Well, care to throw me a friggin bone here then?"
Ethics of taking the latter approach aside, I was wondering if there is a name for this kind of technique, as I feel there should be one.
"Leading answer?" perhaps? "Nudge answer?". "Disambiguation-by-sarcasm?". I'd love to hear your thoughts :)
(edit to address comment by MetaEd: The above phrases are what I researched hoping to find an the answer, but I did not find something relevant.)