I have always been the person with a million questions. From the time I was a small child, I was curious about everything in the world. As I got older, I often became afraid to ask questions. I worried that if I asked a “stupid question,” I would seem unintelligent or naive. Although I do still wonder how things work and have many questions about the world, I have to sometimes nudge myself to ask what’s on my mind.
This segues into my next thought – how dangerous is it to be afraid to ask questions? Well, let’s think about this for a minute. If you are unsure about the kind of oil your car requires, but find yourself afraid of seeming naive by asking a sales associate, you could damage your vehicle’s engine. If you are afraid to seem unintelligent by asking a question about material being covered in class, you could negatively impact your next test score. If you are afraid to question pricing of an on-sale item at checkout because you may seem “arrogant”, you could end up paying more than you anticipated on tomato sauce. Asking questions is a great way to ensure you understand what you are getting yourself into. If asking a question is going to make your life easier in the long-run, it’s worth the chance of feeling foolish.
A few months ago I started a new job. Let’s just say I was not short of questions to ask about my position on the team. However, on my first day, they told me about the potluck they were having the following day. I obviously wanted to bring in a dish to share with my new coworkers. For a moment I thought to ask about food allergies, but I figured that they would list allergies on the sign-up list, so the moment passed. I made a new-to-me Mediterranean salad with pomegranate, lemon, lime, cucumber, and a bunch of other delicious ingredients. So let’s fast-forward to the day after our potluck. Someone mentioned that one of the doctors is extremely allergic to citrus foods. Of course she is. All I could do is hope that she didn’t eat any of the food I brought (please don’t kill the doctor, Liz) and kick myself for not asking about allergies. Thank goodness she is a cautious person and didn’t eat anything she wasn’t sure was safe. So yeah, I almost killed a doctor on my second day working there all because I was too timid to ask an important question.
Moral of the story: There are no stupid questions. If you think the answer to a question could benefit your understanding of a situation, just ask it!