Years ago, my supervisor gave me a simple tip when talking with my foreign counterparts (on-shore).
He said that after they give instructions, that I should repeat what I understood and immediately ask questions.
Asking questions early on avoids miscommunication, especially since there is a language barrier between us.
From that point on, I realized the importance of asking questions.
Why do people asks questions?
There are four general reasons why a person asks a question, based on my observations.
1. They genuinely wants to know the answer.
This is the most common. People usually ask questions about things they don’t know.
- “What is your name?”
- “What do you think is the long-term impact of the pandemic in education?”
2. They are trying to give suggestions.
People sometimes are unable to directly offer suggestions to others, especially to their supervisors, that’s why they conceal it in the form of a question.
- “Is it possible to use Google Meet instead of Zoom in our online classes?”
- “Do you think we should transfer to another restaurant?“
3. They are testing you.
Teachers and people who wants to test your knowledge or ability usually ask these questions.
- “What will you do if our system is hacked?”
- “How will you connect your voltmeter to read the voltage of a resistor?”
4. They are giving a statement.
These “questions” are commonly referred as rhetorical and sometimes even sarcastic, meaning it does not require an answer.
- “Have you eaten already? Let’s eat.”
- “Can that report be any more later?” -Chandler Bing
Reasons why you should ask questions:
There are many reasons why you should ask questions, but these five should be enough for you to consider asking more.
- To learn more new things.
- To clear things up or avoid miscommunications.
- To allow the person asked to know what he/she does not know.
- To learn more about a person.
- To establish a deeper relationship.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
You can be intimidated to ask questions but it is important to learn as early as possible.
It can be difficult at first, but through practice, it can be done confidently.
That is why I am thankful for the interactions I had with my managers before, who encouraged us to ask questions. Thanks to them, I became comfortable asking questions even to people with authority.
I realized they are willing to answer even the “stupid” questions, but unfortunately, no one dares to ask.
I try to ask questions not easily answered by Google.
Our generation is blessed with technology, but ironically, so many people are not yet used to it. One important resource we can use is Google.
Have you ever heard of GMG or “Google mo, g*go.”? Yes, that is as bad as it sounds. It can also be demeaning, so “Google mo, girl” is a softer alternative.
There are situations when you can search for your answers on your own before asking others, e.g. when you’re in front of a computer already.
But if you still don’t know the answer after checking Google, then start asking.
Teaching the importance of asking questions.
As a teacher, I always encourage my students to ask questions. They can even interrupt me if they want.
Just like what my previous teacher used to say, “There are some questions that cannot wait”.
If I don’t know the answer, I tell them that. I don’t want to pretend to be a know-it-all and hide my lack.
Asking questions is a two-way learning opportunity and not asking enough can be a disservice to others involved.
When we were younger, we often ask about anything because we are curious about many things.
Unfortunately, as we age, many of us lose that love of learning because of the fear of embarrassment and making a fool of oneself.
I hope that we not only renew our curiosity, but also learn to ask difficult and thought-provoking questions.
So go ahead, ask.