This has become a personal mission: I want to help build environments where nobody starts a sentence with “may I ask a dumb question?“
The group welcomes questions.
The group encourages questions.
People feel safe asking questions.
Questions are asked to:
- clarify understanding
- identify coaching and mentoring opportunities
But how do we build such environments?
Here are some ideas:
- Avoid throwing “of course… everybody knows that… obviously…” into the conversation
- “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”
- Ask questions and listen to answers to get a better understanding of those around you. Learn what they don’t know. Ask yourself “how can I help them take their next step?“
- Get to know the individuals. Learn to identify who are the ones who might have questions but won’t ask until they feel it’s safe to do so. Learn how to help them feel safe.
We may think we know something because “that’s how we’ve always done it”. Well, that’s not true. That might be how we’ve been doing it for a long time since we learned it.
But what if we learned it wrong?
Or what if we learned it right but eventually got sloppy and turned it into the way we’ve always done it?
That question from someone who doesn’t know something might be just what we need to challenge our assumptions, our biases, our beliefs that went into auto-pilot and never gotten updated.
Here’s something I’ve been pondering (by Marie-Christine Gasingirwa):
In life there isn’t a single person that knows everything and there is no person that knows nothing.
It’s not too late to learn because you just need to develop that interest, talk to people, share with them what you have and learn from them.
There is no breakthrough in this world if you are isolated, you can only make a breakthrough by talking to people.