When you enter the career world, your supervisors will often say to you “there is no such thing as a stupid question.” While I encourage this phrase, what I really think it should be is “you shouldn’t be afraid to ask ANY questions.” There are stupid questions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they shouldn’t be asked – especially if you’re just starting a new job, a new project, or trying to learn about someone’s work style. However, to avoid being a nag or give yourself a bit more confidence while being quizzical, there are a few steps you can take to ask the RIGHT questions.
Before asking someone else, ask yourself – can I Google this? It shocks me how many questions I receive in an email or in an interview that could have easily been answered by a little research or doing some googling. It saves yourself and your managers time if you try to find easy answers for yourself first.
If you think it sounds silly, frame it up nice – Even if you have to ask something as simple as where to order paper bags from, frame it in the context of your thought process so your co-workers know where you’re coming from. If you explain that you’re trying to make best use of the client budget but you are having a hard time finding the best delivery materials, that sounds a lot better than “where do we buy cheap bags?”
Question your question, and you might find an answer- This may seem silly, but sometimes your questions can be answered by thinking outside the problem at hand. Ask yourself if there are any resources you can check first, any past projects that might be able to help, or new information you recently received that helps to clarify.
Know who to ask – Even if you’re buddy buddy with your boss or director, it doesn’t mean you need to bug her with every question. Talk to those members of your team who can help you best. Same thing with professors, career counselors or mentors. Just because someone has giving you great information in the past does not make them the master encyclopedia of all things ever. Expand your resources for best results.