[Script of the Week] How to Ask More Questions

When I first graduated in 2009 I was desperate to show I knew what was going on at all times. This couldn’t have been further from the truth, of course, since this was the beginning of my career and I was still learning. I didn’t see it that way, though. I just never wanted them to see me sweat.

The thing is, it wasn’t arrogance. It was because of the recession. I just felt so lucky to have a job, and I was terrified of losing it. I assumed there were 1000's of other PR kids out there, nipping at my heels, ready to take my place — who already knew all the answers. Given that fear, there was no way in hell I was bugging anybody with my questions.

Now, a few years into my career, I take a much different approach and I see my actions in those years in a whole new light.

Even though it clearly came from a place of insecurity, that doesn’t change the fact that I was bullshitting everybody and I wasn’t being as effective as I could have been. I suppose now I just realize how much I still have to learn. Plus, now managing others, I really appreciate the value of coachability. A key path to coachability is curiosity. And a key sign of curiosity is when someone asks a ton of questions.

Asking questions doesn’t mean you’re an idiot. It means you’re engaged and interested in the work you’re doing. It means you care enough not to take things at face value, and that you’re paying attention to the details to make sure a job gets done correctly. Most of all, it shows you want to learn — which is huge for younger employees. I regret not knowing that sooner.

Of course, some questions are better to ask than others. For example, there’s stuff you really should just Google and figure out on your own. And there are are questions that could embarrass your boss or put her on the spot in front of others in a meeting if she’s not prepared to answer. You may want to skip those questions, or just take your timing into consideration.

But for the most part, if you’re asking someone to repeat something you didn’t quite catch the first time, requesting an additional explanation, or suggesting that someone repeats an important detail… I think that’s all really good stuff.

So, in total, ask more questions. Be proactive and find the answers you need to find. Be curious. Be confident. Say stuff like this a lot more often:

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