I have found that many people are afraid to ask questions… that’s right.. Afraid.
I am not speaking about the small percentage that are brave enough to ask one question in a meeting and when they get an answer, they simply shut up. It could very well be that the answer has nothing to do with their question, or that the answer is completely off base… they simply wont ask for clarification..
Simple, they are afraid to look stupid. it doesn’t matter that everyone else is thinking ..”hmm how the hell does that answer the question that was asked?”
They are simply afraid that if they ask anything further, they will look less than at the meeting, interview, one one one, etc…
I gave a presentation on this at a leading financial services organization and was pulled aside a week later by one of the attendees. He proceeded to tell me that he used one of my techniques at a meeting and it worked! He stated that when he asked a question and he felt the answer provided did not answer his question, he challenged it. The answer he received was “oh.. that’s what you were asking.. I will have to get back to you on that. He was so surprised and pleased!
So I will let you in on a few secrets.. some you may have heard..
There is no such thing as a dumb question, one will only feel dumb for NOT asking. This is not a line, but a reality.
There have been many times, where I don’t understand the answer that is being provided, so I will ask, “I apologize, but I don’t understand how that answers my question, and (re-iterate my question)”
I have been told many times after meetings, “Your the guy that asks all the questions everyone else is thinking but is afraid to ask!”
I don’t hold back and ask the pointed questions. Again, don’t tie up a meeting because you are the only one that doesn’t understand. Many times, once you open the floor to such questions, others will chime in. If it isn’t a logical answer to your question, then question it.
I even had a situation where someone on the conference call was asked to provide a configuration for a device, which they did provide. They stated definitively, that since there were two of them, they were both configured identically. Upon further examination, I noticed that only one configuration was provided and my logic told me that if something is labeled “primary”.. then the other must be ….. yes, “secondary”
After politely insisting I get the other configuration, it was proved that they are indeed not identically configured.
Don’t take things for granted just because an “Expert” tells you they are. Ask for validation. I have found that many times people will state that something is absolute.. and why? because they know it to be so in many other situations.. So odds are they are right… but has it been validated in this case?