Let’s discuss stupid questions in this week’s blog post. In my opinion, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people who don’t ask questions. From my own experience, I was surprised to know that most of our colleagues generally won’t hesitate to help when we ask a question even if it seems embarrassingly obvious to us. I’ve discovered something over the years that many times my best learning has come from someone else’s question. Think about it; you don’t know what you don’t know. And that includes asking specific questions. Sometimes you don’t know the question to ask. But someone else. Who is at a higher level of awareness may just ask a question that is like a lightbulb moment for you. Have you ever experienced that before?
|“Asking dumb questions is a lot easier than fixing dumb mistakes.“|
One of the biggest problems that I noticed in my professional career is that people refrain from asking questions on their minds for fear of coming across as stupid or for fear of being judged by others. The next time you’re in your team meeting, and a silly question crosses your mind, don’t be afraid to ask it. I assure you that at least one other person in the room is probably contemplating the same question. You never know. Next time when you think about it, remember that you’re not the only one thinking of stupid questions. You just need to have the courage to ask these questions out loud.
I often noticed that people in the room are glad you asked, as they were too fearful to ask themselves. Also, when the first person asks a question, everyone else in the room starts asking questions. Here is why asking dumb questions considered to be good for your career.
- Proof that you have been paying attention: However stupid your question may be, it will establish the fact that you are listening and very much interested in the conversation. Asking a question is always a lot better than wondering whether to ask or not. Chances are there for the so-called stupid question was not being so stupid after all.
- Gain more insight: By asking right or wrong questions, you understand the topic at hand to the best of your ability. It will position you better when you need to talk about the same topic with other members of your team.
- What if you were to mess up big time just because you had the chance to ask that stupid question, but you didn’t?
- What if getting the answer to that question made things clear for you and saved you either from wasting hours finding the solution or making a blunder?
- Avoid errors and improve the quality of work: By asking questions, you will enhance your chances of making fewer mistakes when processing the work item related to the topic because your understanding reflects in your work.
It is very important to ask stupid questions without sounding stupid. In 2007, during my first international travel on a work assignment to Alberta Department of Transportation Edmonton, Canada, I avoided drinking coffee during the first two weeks in the new office because I don’t know how to use the Espresso coffee machine. Whenever I fail to resist my urge to drink coffee, I keep an eye on my team members’ movements towards the vending machine. Yes, you are right; I am dependent on the coffee-making skills of my team members. After a week, I had to suck it up ask an embarrassingly easy question: “So, how do you brew a new pot of coffee?” Irrespective of your level of experience, you will encounter similar situations frequently in your life. Sometimes you don’t quite understand something how your co-workers can do effortlessly. You’ll have to begin by asking some “stupid” questions.
- Observe First: Sometimes, we can find the answer to our question without asking verbally but by simply observing. Therefore if time is not of the essence, then you can try first by observing someone who mastered the skill. When your manager asks you to do something. First, google it. Even if you do not find step by step solution, but you will gain some insight. You will be able to ask more meaningful questions, and you will be able to position yourself better to understand the answers.
- Ask with Confidence: Asking “stupid” questions won’t damage your career. When you phrase them the right way, you’ll demonstrate that you’re competent and, more importantly, not afraid to ask for whatever you need to get the job done. At the same time, you need to refrain from keeping asking the same question over and over. Think whether or not it’s something that you could have easily found out with some quick research.
|“There are no stupid questions.
Stupid people don’t ask questions.“
It certainly seems daunting in the beginning, and just like anything else, it gets easier the more you do it. It’s ok even your question gets a bunch of laughter before it’s answered. You should be okay with that, as long as it gets answered. You never know that your stupid question might have brought some happiness to somebody. It’s ok to emerge as a winner in the end by delivering better results at the risk of being sounded like a dumb.
During my first software job, my manager told me that some of my questions are so stupid, but I still asked him because the alternative would be to stay puzzled and make a mistake because I wasn’t clear. So, to have peace of mind before asking the question, I remember requesting my manager to allow me to ask five stupid questions in a week. It worked for me, and him too. I was at peace before asking the question. However, I would like to remind you that certain questions will be classified as stupid questions. For example, what if you were not listening and paying attention and asked the same question that is already being answered. It is stupid, isn’t it?
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