Question with disclaimers

Few days back, a colleague walked over and said, “this might be a silly question, but I want to ask if……….?”

Why do we tend to add a disclaimer before asking a question: a simple question or unnecessary or trivial question or even complex question.

Contrast this with how children ask questions; uninhibited and straight forward, without mincing words. Doesn’t matter how embarrassing it is for the elders around them. I remember as a 3–4-year-old kid asking my mother as to why our guest’s face resembled a dog as he was rinsing his mouth after lunch, that too in front of him!! I also remember being dragged away from the spot…

I didn’t ask the question to annoy or embarrass anyone, as a kid, I was just trying to clarify, to understand the world around me. I shared this extreme example only to illustrate my point, the contrast between children and adults. As we know, most questions posed by children are harmless.

So, what changes as we step into adulthood? What holds us back or forces us to add disclaimers to our questions? Here are few possible reasons:

  • Self-protection from perceived threat of being ridiculed
  • Unsure if it’s the right question or right forum, its implication on self and others
  • Fear of revealing ignorance, our lack of knowledge about something that we believe we should have

Let’s turn it on its head! What if we see questions as a sign of

  • Curiosity
  • Willingness to learn
  • Sense of security
  • Desire to deliver excellent work

Won’t it change how we ask questions… going back to the beginning of the post, I remember responding to this colleague, “go ahead, every question is important… no question can be silly.”

Here’s to asking questions fearlessly and without disclaimers…..

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