My wife asked me some questions out of frustration the other day which got me thinking.  She wanted to know why I would ask here if she had plugged in the camera when she called me at work asking how to download her pictures?  Why would I ask one of our friends what that friend wanted to do with the computer she was going to purchase when what she asked was what I thought was a good computer?  This woman is a mother with three small children, what would I think she was going to do with it?  Looking back it was probably safe to make some assumptions, at least on that one.

This type of situation falls into the categories of trouble shooting as well as requirements gathering and many other areas that we venture into as IT professionals.  These were all very good questions that speek to how I and I believe many people in our industry attack problems.

Do we over complicate problems by asking questions that are too basic when we don't need to?  I think that we get so used to working the hard problems that sometimes we forget to answer simple questions with simple answers.  Most times we are trying to make sure that we don't assume too much since doing so would mean that we will end up building the wrong solution.  Ensuring that we do not assume anything does not mean ignoring what we already know.

So what is the solution?  Take a quick inventory of what you already know.  If you still need more information then ask appropriate questions.  Otherwise, propose a solution that fits what you know and validate it.  Remember, a frustrated user (or spouse) is never a good situation.