Have you ever been in a situation where you had no clue about what someone was talking about or no understanding about a concept that a group of friends or colleagues were discussing? Most of us have an experience or two like that and we will most likely have more as we continue along in our lives.
We have all heard the old saying, “there are no stupid questions.” However, we have all experienced a few times when that has not always been true and so our tendency is to keep quiet, muddle through, and hope we won’t look like a complete fool in the discussion.
The problem with keeping quiet and muddling through is that without asking questions to gain understanding, we don’t add new insights to our experience, we waste some time and energy when we are confused, our growth is hindered, and we fall short of reaching our full potential.
As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, it is important that we build the courage to ask questions that can help us learn and grow.
We learn and grow when we move beyond our current borders. One very simple and effective way to grow is to have the courage to ask a question when we don’t understand.
There continues to be a steady stream of published research on the benefits of asking questions that should be a source of support and encouragement to all of us to ask questions when we don’t understand. In reviewing many of these studies, I thought the three take-aways below were most helpful to build our courage to raise our hand and ask the question:
- When we ask questions to better understand a topic, we learn (not too surprising).
- When we ask people a question about a topic or idea they are discussing, we provide them with some encouragement and a boost of confidence. People feel better about themselves when they are genuinely asked a question from someone who wants to learn. Encouragement and confidence is a wonderful gift we can give someone just by asking a question.
- When we ask people a question and they feel affirmed and a little more confident about themselves, they think more highly of the person who asked them the question. So as opposed to having that not so hidden glaze of confusion on our faces, by asking the question, we elevate our potential in the eyes of others. Helping others to see our full potential is a door opener to a world of possibilities for us and those we care about most.
As the saying goes, repetition builds retention, so here is a quick summary. When we ask questions (1) We learn (2) We encourage others (3) People end up thinking more highly of us.
The next time we are involved in a discussion around an idea or a concept we don’t understand, stop and ask a question…every time. With this small change in our behavior, we will ensure we keep heading in an effective direction to reach our hopes and dreams.
When we develop the courage to ask a question, we build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity for us to learn, grow, and reach our full potential.