Stupid Questions: Benefits and Importance

Carl Sagan has once stated that: “There are naïve questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.”

How exactly can we define an imbecilic inquisition? More often than not people who ask this ‘sort’ of questions are viewed with a deliberate display of ignorance by a supposedly more intelligent being. Do questions become invalid when they are addressed by patients with mental disabilities? The answer is different from one person to another.

Throughout our lives, the perception of what represents a ‘good’ question may vary. Our teachers and professors have always encouraged smart thinking. However, how can we make smart inquiries if we do not even have the answers even to the simplest of questions? When children are incapable of differentiating between a simple question and a stupid one, they automatically develop the habit of self-censorship and, if not addressed, may transform into complete censorship. Due to this self-imposed censorship, we deprive ourselves of information and we leave all of our doubts unresolved.

We have to accept the idea that questions are questions and nothing else even though sometimes they may seem shrewd or silly. Questions enable us to ‘fuel’ our brain and boost our own reasoning and understanding. If we manage to get off the concept of ‘stupid questions’ early on in our lives, maybe we would see less and less silence during Q&As. Failure doing so will result in a generation without questions, without a voice and worst of all without any judgement.

It is recommended to allow ourselves and others as well to ask stupid questions, because, from a business point of view, they more often than not lead to out of the box ideas.

During the final stages of an interview, people may ask questions so this represents the perfect opportunity to ask how the business does things, due to the simple fact that you are ‘new entry’ and do not know anything. Interviewers should not judge, but actually, encourage candidates to ask as many questions as possible.

Unfortunately, as we grow and develop our ideas more and more we fall into the habit of not asking simple questions because of this transition from little knowledge to a vast amount of it, and when we have reached that stage in our lives when we’re supposed to be informed we stop asking the straightforward questions because you may think people will get the impression you do not really understand what your job consists of.

Ironically, these basic questions will help you improve your work rate and performance over time so it is crucial you don’t stop being curious. Doesn’t it make more sense to ask why in order to fully comprehend what is the motive for doing what you have been asked to?

Understandably, people tend to fall into the routine of their work, but actually, it’s important to question why for the most menial of tasks, because you don’t know where a question may lead you.

Basically, the principle is the same as watching customers using your product for the first time, because, in doing so, they will see things differently than you and the team behind it. A similar example would be when an external consultant has come to the workplace and starts to assess departments and find key areas where there is room for improvement.

Of course, people are generally afraid to ask stupid questions due to peer pressure. Furthermore, they may also lack the necessary self-confidence. Whatever the case may be, not asking simple questions can leave everyone missing out on your ideas and contribution as a team player. Below, you will find a few reasons to start asking questions.

1. Becoming more Open-minded

When someone asks a ‘dumb’ question, they acknowledge and accept the fact that they don’t have all the possible answers. In a way, they reveal that they don’t know everything, thus they start being regarded more open to being questioned. People who ask questions appear more approachable and authentic. As an added bonus, there is no air of superiority coming from these people.

By asking ‘stupid’ questions you make sure that you have all the necessary facts and data in order to make decisions with a higher percentage of success. This will transform you into a trustworthy person who inspires confidence.

Consequently, people around you will become more likely to ‘use’ you as a good listener. They will know you will take into consideration their ideas and that you will question them and offer your best and honest suggestions. Leaders value open and honest people.

2. A Broader Vision

Asking ‘stupid’ questions can lead to creative and out-of-the-box solutions to our many problems. A crazy wild idea or question may be totally off the charts but may inspire someone else to come up with something brilliant. They may find a solution perhaps not as eccentric as yours, but nonetheless, a solution that solves the issue one way or another.

When you have a vision or an idea for something you start to imagine what that might be. The second part of the vision is represented by the contingency plan aka plan B. If people question someone’s plan it should not be viewed as a ‘dumb’ thing to do. It is important to see this as an opportunity to explore various contingency plans.

3. Perception

More often than not the moment when a new process is being set up, people start asking questions about it and it may seem like they are resisting change or in some cases, question someone’s authority. However, blindly following rules and directions is not always a good idea as history offers us good examples. The organisation may suffer getting the expected results and not because the change itself was a bad one, but simply because the people who are implementing the change didn’t understand why they were doing it.

When employees blindly accept to follow a new initiative for a project there can be a damaging lack of clarity in terms of direction and motivation. Our brains are wired to take the path of least resistance which more often than not leads to peril. By getting ourselves rid of the fear of questioning and actually dare to ask the so-called ‘dumb’ questions we may ensure that we are all focused and on the same path.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

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