Knowledge Is Power, Just Ask

@font-face { font-family: "Arial"; }@font-face { font-family: "Arial Bold Italic"; }@font-face { font-family: "Arial Italic"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

I ask a lot of questions.

According to my kids, I often don't know when to stop.

In my opinion, if you don't ask, then you don't know. And knowledge is power. I am not embarrassed to stick my hand up and ask for clarification (anywhere) if I do not understand something. I am also not afraid to put myself out there to ask a question, especially if I believe others in the room will also want to hear the answer.

But I do remember a time when I too, was afraid to ask, it might have been as far back as middle school, though. I think somewhere in my growing up years I realized that I was more embarrassed making mistakes from not understanding, than I was by being embarrassed asking questions. And after a few times of putting myself out there to ask, risking ridicule, but not receiving it, I got brave. I realized others were getting answers and clarification out of my questions as well. And even the "speaker" or teacher--- or whomever I was asking, seemed to appreciate the questions.

(Well, most of the time). I can be a little intense.

I know from speaking in front of groups myself, that when someone asks me a question during, or at the end of my presentation, it tells me that they were listening. If something I said was unclear, and I can then clarify it for them, then I, as a speaker, know to incorporate this question or clarification into my message the next time I share it. I love getting questions. I think it makes my presentations better.

Maybe time will give my children the confidence to ask questions. I am hoping that they too, realize the power of knowledge. And that not fully understanding something, only leads to mistakes and frustration all around.

There are times I purposefully try to remain quiet to allow others the opportunity to ask questions. But they don't, or won't. That frustrates and amazes me.

As an example, sometimes in sales meetings with my peers, no one asks any questions after a presentation. So I raise my hand and begin. And oftentimes, people thank me later for clarifying. What? Didn't they too, want to fully understand the material so they could figure out what it means to them?

Sometimes I ask questions even if it isn't information I will ever use, but I like to fully grasp things. Over time, I have come to realize that if I don't understand something, there is a pretty good chance that someone else who may really need to use the information, isn't understanding it either. (Except math. Don't even go there with me. It never makes sense no matter how many questions I ask, or how many times someone explains it).

I will give the younger generation a slight pass about this, at least until they grow up some, but I get pretty frustrated when I send my kids off on a fact finding mission only to have them ask one question. One. Question. What do you learn from that? Usually not nearly all that you need to know.

I have a lot of friends who are ten, or even twenty years younger than I am. In most cases, they do not step up to ask the right questions either. Why is that, I wonder? Don't they want to know? Maybe it is because they just don't know what to ask...or maybe they are just not comfortable enough in their own skin, to ask. Whatever the reason, I would like to bring back the art of asking questions to people of all ages.

I tell my children, my younger friends, heck, even my older friends, if you don't get something, ask a question. It shouldn't be scary. It should be empowering. After all, if you are at a presentation or a meeting, it is the speaker's job to make their message understandable and clear. If you stop at an information desk, it is their job to assist you. If you have a meeting scheduled with a college advisor,  it is their job to advise you. But at all of those places it is your job to ask the questions, to mine the information you need, to fully understand it.

So if a person's message is not coming through clearly, ask for clarification. If a person's answer does not clarify things in your mind, ask another. You should be confident in asking questions to learn the answers. It's called dialogue. 

I believe that asking a question shows your strength, not your weakness. I am also convinced that others around you benefit from your stepping up to ask a question. That's a win/win situation, right? So, ask away. Being a little uncomfortable or nervous when you first learn to ask is normal. But the more you ask, the easier it will be in every aspect of your life. 
Think how smart you will be then?
I am almost 49 years old. I am not afraid to ask questions. Nor should you be.
Knowledge is power, my friend.