Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just Ask...It's not so Difficult

It is amazing how many questions go “un-asked”.... and every now and then we have a moment, when we look at somebody and say “I wish you had asked that before”.

Many of us have an endearing memory of admiring the girl next door, but never “Asking”…it makes for excellent drama for sure. Always charming...but perhaps it should be left that way!

I can’t remember where I read this, but easiest way of getting a discount is to “Just ask”. We all love discounts, but for some reason or the other, we shy away from asking for it…perhaps we don’t want ourselves to look cheap…or the value of discount looks trivial. But it must be the easiest way to have more of your own money in your wallet, …just ask for it.

Go to a store, and see keenly scanning the isles, with commando like eye movements...looking for that particular product... we may actually walk around, looking for it, sometimes even pass by the salesperson (often wearing, 'May i help you' T Shirt) , but not Ask. Of course, in the process we loose time and delay the acquisition of our favorite cereal that day.

Men not asking for directions, is a well known fact. That’s why Online maps is the greatest gift to the modern man (and to their frustrated family in the car).

At workplace, asking questions is perhaps the easiest and one of the most impacting thing you can do. Asking questions, creates a good dialog, helps in better understanding. It gives you a better chance of reaching a consensus and coming out with an acceptable solution. It may avoid assumptions, which needn’t be made.

My first Manager, had a (rather tacky) chart in his office, which said, “When in Doubt, just ASK”. (I think Archies used to sell it). As a very young programmer, trying to make my boss happy, I, of course, took it verbatim and probably asked one too many questions, but this made sure I understood what was expected when I walked out of his office.

If you are new on the job, you always have the dilemma of whether to ask a question or not, after all there is a lot to catch up on, and perhaps, the question will sound trivial to all others in the forum. It is a legitimate thought, but just for kicks...just give it a try. You may be surprised how many people in the forum did not know the real answer. Alternatively, It is best to note down such questions, and seek answers later on.

For a “Culture of Asking” to prevail, it must be supported by two other behaviors, “Listening” and “Answering” (responding). As individuals we must make a sincere attempt to: First listen, and then respond with complete earnestness, when somebody asks. We must try not shoot-down the question, or respond before understanding the question.

Not Asking leads to assumptions, which can prove costly or cause unnecessary heart burn.

As a Parent do you have the courage and an open enough relationship to ask, if your kid smoked?

Whatever role we play, and whatever be the situation, there are questions waiting to be asked…so don’t assume the worst or the best, please Just Ask...it's not so difficult.


  1. Interesting and Important. So, What is your motivation behind starting this blog? ;)

    One drawback of cultivating a habit of just "Asking" (literally), minimizes the importance of discoveries, knowledge you might stumble upon in your quest for answer. More often or not, asking is taken literally when it should actually be in context of “seeking”. Would you want to differentiate between a child’s efforts in looking for meaning of a word – ask his/her parent or pick a dictionary? In both the cases child is seeking meaning of the word that he/she is unaware off. Chances are when going thru the dictionary he/she might find some other interesting words.

    Key is to balance knowledge seeking against inquisitiveness and available time. Definitely agree of the fact - don't assume.

  2. Hii,
    Sometime back....I read a book on the power of listening. It was an amazing book. It has been observed that people who listen more and talk less are very successful professionally.
    But I opine that both the traits, i.e., Listening and Asking are equally important for one to succeed in life....with honesty for work...after all work is something more...

  3. Hii,
    In addition to my previous post, I would also like to emphasize on the factor, which decides the quality of questions, of choice of career. If a person is in a job which he loves, you can differentiate his questions from others who take work as an 8 to 5 routine.

    One question for you:
    How do you gauge whether a person is asking questions just to impress you or does he really mean it.

  4. Thanks Kishore and Amit for sharing your views.

    Kishore: Completely agree with you. Culture of Asking isn't supposed to replace the culture of inquisitiveness and discovery.
    These really go together, and should be encouraged.
    Stretching your example, it'll be great if the kid can pick up a dictionary, but in case he does not 'feel like it' (you've heard that!), he should not hesitate to ask.

    Amit: I agree, questions show inquisitiveness, which is pointer to interest in whatever you are involved with. A Job, a hobby or anything else.

    >>How do you gauge whether a person is asking questions just to impress you or does he really mean it.

    My view on this would be: In general, "not to judge" the intent. As you said earlier, Listen and respond best you can, in given circumstances.

    Even if the question is asked to impress you or other participants, a response may benefit many.

    At times, You can always ask the person to initiate a thread later (of "Offline"). If he/she is genuinely interested, a followup thread will happen else not.