Have you ever had one of those days where you think, "I have no idea what I am doing"?
Here I was at work looking at a task thinking "I have no idea what to do here". So I did what I always do, I asked the client a series of questions in an effort to try to get more information and stall for the time needed until someone much smarter than me could take a look at the task.
Don't Jump in Until You Can See the Bigger Picture
I attempted to come up with big words and complicated technology terms to stop and make them think, hoping they would ask more questions. Why did I do this? Why didn't I just say "I have no idea what are you talking about"? Sometimes no answer is the best. Sometimes the customer and co-worker would rather hear no reaction then your first reaction This is at the core of change management.
Don't Do Anything Until You Know Why the Request is Being Asked
There is the occasion when solving the problem over time is better then solving the problem quickly. I have an old co-worker who is now a client, and he presented a problem they are having with security. They wanted to be able to limit the mirroring ability of users to only one form. Guess what, I have never been asked this question before and really had no idea if it was possible. But what did I tell him, "I am sure we can think of something".
Slow Down and Think
Later in the day, I was thinking.... this is a really bad idea. This agency just spent several thousands of dollars to increase the security, and now we are going to create a business rule that works around everything they just asked us to prevent. If I would have just taken the time to slow down and think and not react, I would have come to this conclusion first. I then talked to my boss and explained the reason why they were asking for this change. After about 20 minutes we came up with a secure solution to address this question; though both of us thought this was not the best idea, we did understand why they were asking us to build this into their system.
So what is the takeaway here? Slow down and think. How often have each of us been in a situation where we think we know the answer to a question and then just "jump in" with the solution - without taking time to see the bigger question and picture of - "how will this change affect our program, or service? Will it change the way we deliver it? How does it affect our employees? How will it affect our clients? Is there anything else we would need to change or update, as a result?"
This will allow you to express your thoughts and feelings on the idea without giving the customer a false expectation.