Every question deserves an answer. This is basic human respect. Never imply that someone doesn’t understand grammar. By not answering a rhetorical question, you do just that. Questions deserve answers.
Answering a rhetorical question does not mean you need to argue with the rhetorician. You can answer rhetorical questions respectfully. Failing to answer them is the disrespect.
People who believe that rhetorical questions are statements—not questions—have trouble communicating their thoughts. Whether they ask the rhetorical questions as a way to make a statement or they fail to answer rhetorical questions, confusing language makes language confusing. No matter how complicated we twist it in order to work it all out in our minds to somehow “make sense”, asking questions without expecting answers is bad practice. Over-complicating things in one’s mind will make communication even more difficult, whether listening or expressing oneself.
Jesus said, “Let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no’.” His literal meaning is to take language literally; that’s wise, smart, and good all around. Not being able to get something off your chest makes like very difficult. When you need to say something, say it! If someone needs to tell you something, listen!
The good practice of answering rhetorical questions will make you seem a little “strong” to people who don’t share the same practice. Be kind to them, but don’t act ignorantly just to avoid confusing the ignorant. Set a good example for people to follow. It’s human nature to complain about a thing we respect the first time we encounter it. Let people encounter your answers to rhetorical questions.
By answering rhetorical questions directly, you will train your mind to see through many passive-aggressive traps. The simple way to slice through squirmy manipulation is to interpret everything literally and state everything literally. It’s not easy for a snake to squeeze a broadsword.
Passive-aggression is like pushing someone through a closed window with a pillow. The aggressor doesn’t have “aggressive form” and holds a mere pillow. But, it’s not form that makes one aggressive; it’s initiating injury. By answering rhetorical questions, people will accuse you of “aggression by form”, but you will both learn and demonstrate navigation through anything.