What Keeps You From Asking Those Questions?
I have a habit of asking when I don’t know or I don’t understand something. I don’t know whether it’s a good one or bad one, but nevertheless it has proved to be beneficial. I had never quite thought about it until someone said it, and then I started thinking about it. Sometimes it comes off as one being naïve or sounding extremely inquisitive. I am. My mum prides herself with that trait, she happily says, “you definitely got that from me.” My dad is the silent one, he’ll just watch you go on and on, and when you stop, that discussion is as good as done. My mum on the other hand, will milk all the information from you, which is what I do too.
There are many times I’ve gotten, ‘you know you could have Googled that, right?’ Yes I could have, but why should I when the person who brought it up is there with me? I retort. Why go through a whole conversation not understanding what’s being discussed? And proceed to pretend that you’re together by nodding your head in agreement or disagreement, when you could have simply asked for some further explanation. Then later on you go and Google the terms, but it’s too late to share your opinion because that ship has sailed and decisions have been made.
I find that sometimes you understand better when someone explains it to you from the context of your discussion, rather than you searching for whatever it is from a generic point of view. Although, I’m not expelling Google, if anything I am an ardent Googler. It has been and will always be a life saver in countless situations.
I remember in school, we would look at people who asked questions in class with side eyes. While we normally keep off from asking questions or even for what you want, because we fear disappointment, disapproval or judgment. But, is it not better knowing than not knowing? Is it not better knowing that it’s a no or yes, rather than wondering what it could have been? Is it not better being judged by others, rather than remaining hungry for an answer that could have helped you progress? It’s definitely better to ask than to swim in the pool of ignorance and be okay with it.
It’s true, people will judge you by the kind of questions you ask, and others just don’t like being asked. But since for me it’s a habit I never intend on shaving off, I came up with some tips you can pick up when asking those questions. So that it works for you rather than against you.
- Ask your question with confidence – sometimes you might raise your hand to ask the question but when you’re just about to do it, you feel that maybe your question is not worthy of being heard by everyone, and so you whisper it. No, ask it out loudly so that everyone can hear. Once you make up your mind to ask, just ask.
- If you’re going for a meeting, especially a technical meeting, do your research beforehand. Seek for some answers before attending the meeting. If you completely don’t get it, contact the presenter or others who have some knowledge in that field. So that you don’t embarrass yourself before your peers, yet it’s something you could have simply avoided by being prepared.
- Don’t undermine your question before asking it – something like, “I have a small question,” “I have a stupid/lame question.” I used to do this, a lot. Then I read, ‘Nice Girl’s Don’t Get the Corner Office,’ and it was one of the DON’Ts. Because once you describe the kind of question you’re going to ask, you already set the tone for the respondent and they will treat your question with the same triviality you’ve presented it.
- Ask questions that are relevant and in line with what you’re discussing. Then your question makes more sense to the respondent and other participants, unlike when you just come up with a question out of the blues and that’s completely unrelated. Unless the set up allows you to, then you can. Otherwise, if you’re in a meeting and you ask a completely unrelated question, then you’re bound to cause some aggression. If it’s really necessary that you ask, see the presenter aside after.
- Listen before asking. Sometimes you’ll find that the question you’re about to ask will be answered or covered in the course of the presentation or meeting. So just be patient with the presenter. But if by the end of the presentation they haven’t covered what you wanted to ask, ask!
- When in a forum, chances are that if you don’t understand something, there are many others in the same group who don’t also understand. So it’s okay if you take one for the team, and ask the question. Ask, because sometimes it’s through the questions that you fill the gaps of the presentation. Also it shows that you were attentive and you would like to find out some more.
Never stop seeking answers to the questions in your mind. Don’t be fooled, no one is all-knowing, only God is. So seek to know, because that’s the only way you’ll acquire wisdom that will guide you in the path of life.
- Generally, don’t get too personal. People hate that. Let their level of exposure to you be your guide. So you let them lead and you follow – by this I mean, your questions should be in line with what they’re telling you, don’t go ahead of them, if you know what I mean. Curiosity like greed, just want to want to know more and more, and in most cases it rubs people off the wrong way. So know when to poke for some more, and when to stop.
Have yourself a warm and productive week ahead, and don’t shy away from asking those questions.
Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*