When you ask a question get a "that's a good question" response...

MonacoMonkey's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | banana points 2,220

does it change your view of that person? Personally, I get the impression that person is rather insecure, since "that's a good question" is a filler phrase to stall for time while they think of the real answer. A truly secure person would simply allow for a moment of silence, as he/she is not afraid of appearing incompetent.

You see the phrase being used endlessly these days, and it's getting cringe-worthy.

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Comments (11)

Best Response
Sep 14, 2017

I disagree with both that opinion and with what they taught you in middle school: That there are no bad questions. In my opinion, there are bad questions and good questions. A good question shows that the person understands at least something about the topic at hand, is curious to learn more, and is following the correct mental pathways to do so. tl;dr: A good question shows solid reasoning.

Brevity isn't always the goal in conversation. A conversation can be a dance. And while you can say "That's a good question" to buy time, I suspect that it usually just means that the person likes where your head is at. How much time does saying that buy you? Three seconds? They'll probably pause and think about your question before answering it if they need the time anyway. And someone is a lot more likely to just go "Ummm" or "Hmmm" to buy themselves time as that's a reflexive thing to do. Saying "That's a good question" is a conscious act that takes up brain power they supposedly need to come up with an answer to your question!

Lastly, in my limited experience, the person saying that is the person in the power position in the conversation (person conducting the job interview, people answering a question in a media interview, etc.). So they are less likely to feel the compulsion to fill any silent gaps with speech. People in power have confidence and confident people are comfortable with silence and with uncomfortable situations,

There is stuff people can say it for sure makes sense to think less of them for. This is not on that list in my opinion.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

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Sep 14, 2017

100% agree with golden. Unless OP is referring to a situation whereby he is in the position of power, maybe in that case he is correct. I have only received "that is a good question" during informational interviews when I ask a technical question related to someone's specific product/coverage group that clearly shows prior research.

Sep 14, 2017

So basically you are trying to explain the Peter Principle with "That's a good question" as a response?

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/peter-principl...

Sep 14, 2017

It really depends on context.

I'm going to agree with Golden and Deal. Usually it's a compliment in that the other person appreciates your thinking deeply about things and your being inquisitive.

On the other hand, if you're the superior asking your subordinate why these numbers don't tie and they say "that's a good question" while not making eye-contact, showing an awkward smile, and then stumbling through the answer, then yes I'm going to think the person is stalling and doesn't have a good response.

    • 1
Sep 14, 2017

That's a great question MonacoMonkey.
I usually find myself starting a response with this phrase during recruiting sessions, when a prospective Analyst or Associate asks a truly stupid or irritating question.
The irony of the response always makes me chuckle a little bit on the inside.

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Sep 17, 2017

The person is telling you, whether intentionally or not, that he's cornered and can't come up with a quick reply. Personally, I hate when people do this because you can normally say, "I need to think on this one" rather than coming out with some cryptic bs

Sep 17, 2017

Had the chance to ask my friend who has a PhD in Linguistics.

The way she described it, it's not so much a way to stall for time, but a topic diversion technique. It allows the person who responds with "that's good question" to provide a response that doesn't exactly align with your question without appearing overtly dodgy. Presumably, they don't really know the real answer.

If they jumped straight into their response, you (the person who asked the question) would think "but wait, that's not what I asked!" Saying that's a good question creates a lapse in the asker's mind. Clever.

Sep 17, 2017

I'm guessing the genesis of this thread is that you asked your girlfriend if she loves you and she responded with "that's a good question"

Sep 17, 2017

Always be skeptical of the girl who showers you with "I love you"s. Every girl who has truly loved me has verbally claimed to hate my guts. As I like to say, hate it just love set ablaze.

Sep 19, 2017
MonacoMonkey:

does it change your view of that person? Personally, I get the impression that person is rather insecure, since "that's a good question" is a filler phrase to stall for time while they think of the real answer. A truly secure person would simply allow for a moment of silence, as he/she is not afraid of appearing incompetent.

You see the phrase being used endlessly these days, and it's getting cringe-worthy.

What>?

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Sep 19, 2017