How many times has somebody asked you a question where you’ve thought the answer was really obvious?

Is there cod liver in cod liver oil?

Which company makes the Ford Fiesta?

Who was the Florence Nightingale wing of this hospital named after??

The answer may seem obvious to you but to the person asking, it’s not!

We should never be afraid or made to feel stupid when it comes to asking questions. A few years ago, I worked for an organisation where my colleagues around the country and I would join a weekly conference call. More often than not, instructions were dished out to us and it was made very clear that we should follow them to the letter. Mess things up and there would be a severe ticking off!

“Now… are there any questions?”

Silence.  Or, as I interpreted, fear!

 I was fairly new to this organisation at the time and had just come from a place where open discussion and queries were encouraged… so (back to the conference call) I asked a question. The UK gasped! Then, the Chair of the call began to tear a strip off me and attempted to make me feel stupid and small for asking such a ridiculous question. It wasn’t. I merely wanted to clarify something that had been dished out in the splurge of orders. 

The following week, the conference call began with a communal scolding because ‘some of us’ hadn’t followed the instructions properly. I wasn’t surprised.  In essence, the creation of an environment where questioning was discouraged had resulted in failure.

If this scenario sounds familiar, try to NEVER feel stupid if you have to ask a question. I know it can be difficult, especially in front of colleagues who you think may be judging you. In reality, they’ll probably be glad that you’ve asked the question and by getting the answer, you’ve potentially learned something.

Keep asking questions; you’ll learn more… and knowledge is power! 

Thankfully, I’ve never really worked for anyone that wanted to keep all the power to themselves. I know this exists though. Some bosses see knowledgeable staff as a threat and would rather keep a few rungs between them and the next person on the ladder.  This too is unhealthy. I appreciate there has to be a level of confidentiality and you can’t necessarily share everything but if you’re in charge of a team that’s hungry to learn, teach them. A department that knows exactly what it’s doing is more efficient and therefore more successful and you, as a team leader, can take credit for that success.

So, no matter where you are in the world of work and at what level, keep asking – and keep answering – those questions. As we’re a lot more considerate to other people these days, remember that there’s no such thing as a stupid question… just stupid answers! And that’s another matter entirely!

Do you agree??

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