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Why we stopped asking questions?

Why we stopped asking questions?

·     We haven’t done our homework
There are times when we could not prepare ourselves for the upcoming meeting, conference, lecture or interview. Though we won’t be delivering the presentation or driving the conversation but yet we are not comfortable enough to ask the questions. Obviously, if you don’t know the basics then how can you think of meaningful questions spontaneously. So, we act cool, show that we know almost everything, don’t ask questions. In the end, we shout the loudest thanks to the presenter

·     Let someone else asks the question
While sitting in the conference rooms or in seminars, I dread sitting in the last seats. Not that I am studious or want to get noticed but because I don’t want to shout out to ask the questions. In that cases, I would like someone else to ask the question. When was the last time you asked a question from your group? When was it that you asked the question despite being tough (in terms of logistics or seating or subject knowledge) for you? 

·     Our question is stupid
How many times it happened that you start raising your hand to ask a question, and immediately stopped after seeing people nearby you? What if it’s a dummy question? What if someone already asked this question couple of meetings ago? Or maybe “My manager is sitting here. What if he judges me the basis on this question?”

·     Who knows what kind of answer we get?
Sometimes we are afraid of the environment and the presenter, especially either he is subject matter expertise or a loud-mouthed or both

A few years back, during one of our group meetings, I asked a senior manager about rumours of dissolving our team. His response was – “Mandhir! You should be standing near the water cooler to get answers to such questions” It took me 3 months to ask any question to him

·      Answer will confirm our fears
 I used to schedule my one-on-ones with my manager on Friday. Why so? I was afraid of asking certain questions to him. I was afraid not because my boss was scary, but it was the answers which were going to be scary. I knew my performance was not good. Our team was going through restructuring. There were client expectations. I also knew the answers to the questions – “How much will be my appraisal?” “How can I grow within the team?” “What skills I should possess?”

I knew answers to all of them, that’s why I was afraid to ask

·     What to do even if we get the answer
Suppose, we got the confidence to ask the question, knowledge to make this question meaningful, an environment which encourages asking the question, then also we don’t ask a question sometimes. Why so? Because the answer would not make sense to us.

·     Not everyone shares
A classic case of what we see our politicians do to us. At the time of elections, there will be a lot of promises, hope, schemes and assurance of much better future. On asking questions regarding delivery of those promises they would prefer to keep quiet or worse diverge. This non-committed and passive attitude makes us asking fewer questions. And this is not the case with politicians but within organizations as well. In the name of confidentiality, “results will speak soon” people prefer not to share any information which leads to the death of further probing

·     We don’t have an alternate source of information
I see this a lot while making investment decisions, forming political opinions. We are happy to stick to one source of information, especially the one which confirms our biases, our likings, our opinions. Thus, in absence of an alternate source of information we don’t question the opinions or authenticity of our preferred source and thus we stopped asking the questions

Now we know the reasons behind our hesitation of not asking the questions.

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