SOLO The Obstacle Racer Next Door


“that’s a great question” is not an answer

Posted on October 19, 2014

“That’s a great question!”

I hear this phrase frequently from clients. Usually said with both emphasis and fake enthusiasm. And every time I do, I feel impatient.

I know it’s a great question. That’s the only kind I ask. ;)

However, chances are, you are not really complimenting me on my question-asking abilities. More often than not, I did not ask a GREAT question. I asked a TOUGH question.

Yet with this response at the tip of your tongue, you are hardly moving the conversation forward. One article goes as far as suggesting that using this phrase makes you look elusive and slippery. Ouch.


So, when did “that’s a great question” become a stock answer? What are you actually trying to do?

I’m willing to bet that it’s one of the following:

aka “I have not thought about it”.

When you have not given a particular issue a lot (or any) consideration, you may find yourself using this phrase to buy more time. This is a common and easily spotted technique used by job applicants during an interview process.

“Why do you believe in God?”“What is your mission in life?”, and ”What are your top three values?” are all great examples.

Sometimes, this answer is also accompanied with a shrug and downward inflection, indicating the end of the conversation. In other words, “I have not thought about it, nor do I plan to”. Laziness or resistance?

aka “I do not want to tell you”.

You know the answer perfectly well, however, you do not want to tell me. I may not like the answer. I may not need to know the answer. And, instead of politely spelling out the truth, you give me this hackneyed gem.

“Mommy, where do babies come from?”
“Umm… That’s a great question, honey.”

See what I mean?

aka “Let’s talk about something else”.

This is a beloved trick of any politician. Consider the responses to “Mr. President, how do you respond to the criticism about X?”-type questions.

Appeals to nationalistic pride work especially well here. Just wave the flag, and mention something about homeland security. It does not matter if the original question had to do with proposed cuts to the education system.

If you are successful, the conversation flounders around great questions, what makes questions great, how we should all be asking great questions, and, finally (bonus points!), the value of inquiry in developing analytical skills. By that time, everyone forgot what the original question was. Mission accomplished.

I’m onto you.

When you respond to a question with “That’s a great question!”, that’s just SAD –> Stall + Avoid + Distract.

What are you actually saying?

Asking great questions,



muscle memory

Posted on October 17, 2014
I wrap my fingers around the bar, and drop my butt down. Back straight. As I straighten my legs, the bar travels across my shins, I pull towards me, as the bar weakly touches my ribs and falls to the ground. No rep. 115-lb squat clean. No rep. Before...
Read Full Post


my first ultramarathon and five stages of grief

Posted on October 15, 2014
SETTING: Run for the Toad 50k, Paris, Ontario. Four 12.5km loops, and my first ultra marathon. Other distances offered: 25k and 50k relay. A female racer catches up with me few kilometres into the second loop, and conspiratorially nods for me to lean in. I turn my ear to...
Read Full Post

Shayne at 10:39 pm Oct 20
I loved this. "I think I am adopted." You get adopted a lot, Solo. ;-) Big Hugs from "Your Big Sister"

OCR and things to be grateful for

Posted on October 13, 2014
In lieu of Canadian Thanksgiving, I decided to (briefly!) set aside my usual sarcastic and jaded tone that you came to know and love, and do a 180. Watch out, this may get mushy! This year I am grateful. Dear Warrior Dash, thank you for being my first obstacle...
Read Full Post



SOLO on Facebook