The best life advice I ever got was “when in doubt; ask the question”. It was pivotal for me because, like many people, I was sometimes reluctant to ask questions for three basic reasons:
1) I didn’t want to demonstrate that I didn’t know something
2) I thought that asking someone a particular question would put them on the spot in an uncomfortable way
3) I figured I could just figure out the answer on my own
What I’ve learned by taking the risk to ask the question is that I’m usually much better off having asked.
1) I find that asking smart questions is typically much more impressive that trying to prove that I have all the answers. No one is expected to know everything and it’s perfectly OK to preface a question with, “This may an odd question, but I just want to clarify that we’re on the same page…”
2) Sure, sometimes questions feel awkward, but I’ve learned through everything from performance appraisals to debriefs that, more often than not, feeling a little uncomfortable in the short-term usually pays off in the long-term.
3) I have yet to apply for or hire someone for a job in which clairvoyance was in the job description. Sure, I can often make an educated guess about what someone is thinking, but I find that it’s worthwhile to check my logic with that person to make sure I’m surmising correctly. Worst case scenario, I get the info I need to make a course correction.
So, you know that question you’ve been hesitating to ask lately? Go ahead and ask, and let me know how it went.