Ask Questions

We All Need to Ask More Questions

Toddlers ask a lot of questions. The world is filled with wondrous objects the likes of which they have never seen before and they want to know what each object is and what it does and how it works. When you think about it, toddlers are question-asking, information-gathering, knowledge-hungry, sponges. They may ask more questions in a single day than many adults ask in a year.

So why is it that as we get older we ask fewer and fewer questions? I am sure none of us have learned all there is to know. Could it be that the transition from fearless question-askers with no boundaries (we have all heard the toddler ask, “Mommy, why is that man so fat?”) to endangered question askers came about when we started thinking that we should already know the answer? Are we afraid of looking stupid? Is that it? Is it really that simple? Did we stop asking, not because we already know, but because we assume everyone else already knows?

Toddlers assume everyone else already knows the answer, yet they still ask. Gaining more knowledge is all that matters. The possibility of being the only one who does not know never enters their mind. They see something unfamiliar, and out comes the question.

More often than not, when you ask a question, you will discover that other people had the same question in mind, but they were too shy to speak up. And they only spoke up after you made it okay for them to do so. You removed the social stigma of being the only person in the room who did not understand what was just said. In some instances, you may also discover that the expert who was spewing jargon that you were unfamiliar with, is not completely sure what it all means either. I have heard many a speaker parrot industry jargon with no real clue as to its meaning.

Asking a question signals that you want to learn and that you want to make sure you understood what was said. Never assume everyone is on the same page: ask a question and make sure that what you heard is what was said. Too many times people nod heads in agreement without having a clue what they are agreeing to.

I have watched people get a stunned look on their face when they will ask, “Well you are familiar with its history, correct?” and I reply that I am not. They are so used to people saying yes, that they don’t know what to say next. The most memorable response was at a museum and I said that I was not that familiar with the history and the lady said, “Wow, everyone always says they know the history when I am pretty sure they don’t. It’s refreshing to finally have someone admit they don’t know.”