Asking questions is in our DNA. It’s unavoidable. The purpose of asking questions is as much at the foundation of success as the lack of asking questions is at the foundation of failure.
Did you realize that we are actually introduced to “question conversation” before we can even talk? As infants, we are prompted by questions, in fact, starting virtually minutes after birth. We even speak to our pets in question format. It is always interesting how an infant (or a dog) gets excited when prompted by a question. It is how we unlock understandings about people and the world in which we all inhabit.
Anyone looking to advance their career should be asking a lot of questions. They open a person’s mind — yet can make them vulnerable, too. Asking relevant, fact-finding questions is how we grow, improve, analyze, create, invent, discover and learn.
When it comes to business, there is no such thing as too many questions — especially when making or losing money is at stake. A client will forgive you for asking too many questions, but they won’t forget if something goes wrong with the outcome of their project.
If asking questions is such an integral part of how we communicate, then why are some so reluctant to ask them? It almost seems counter intuitive. Many people refrain from asking because of fear and a long- standing misconception that they might appear to be inept, incompetent or at worse, stupid.
When you’re on the receiving end of questions, here are some things to consider. First, don’t assume the person’s questions are a product of anything other than the way his or her mind works. They are simply trying to learn, seek validity or get clarification.
Second, don’t be dismissive. Many questions are worth answering. Perhaps others may have the same question, but are hesitant to ask.
Third, be honest. If it is not a good time for questions, say so. Offer an alternative time that is convenient and that you can commit to. People will certainly be appreciative.
For the person asking, remember, there are times when answers may not be much more than someone else’s opinion. Asking questions and obtaining answers should never take the place of doing your own research for what initially prompted the question. Getting answers from others doesn’t absolve you from your personal responsibility to separate fact from fiction or opinion, but is does give you the ammunition to know the difference.
At the Nutis Visual Communications Group, it’s our job to ask our clients lots of questions. It helps reduce the likelihood of miscommunication and avoid costly mistakes.