Question mark.

Ask the Question

As a trainer, I think this tip from Character Labs is crucial, but I also see the issue plainly on a daily basis in the technology world. It’s the fear that prevents us from asking questions.

“The more we think we need to be “brilliant” to succeed (or at least look successful), the harder it is to reveal what we don’t know to others. “

This is a huge issue when you consider training and development. There are so many things our teams don’t know and are afraid to ask about. There are so many times we use acronyms or refer to technology that not everyone understands, and they are afraid to ask, so they just move forward without fully understanding what is going on.

They are also not providing an opportunity for many of us to think twice about how we speak and practice explaining the technology we work with every day. I can’t help but wonder if the lack of ability to explain things in simple terms that we often see in some of the brightest tech experts in our workplaces is tied to the fact that everyone is too afraid to ask questions and appear to be the “dumb” one of the group.

Here’s the challenge for those of you who want to lead. If someone in a meeting says something using jargon that you aren’t sure everyone in the meeting understands but is afraid to admit they don’t understand, ask the question on their behalf. Show them that asking questions is a good thing, and model the behavior that says learning is so important here that we ask questions without fear.

It also sends the message that we expect everyone to take the time and explain things to each other. That’s a big part of having a learning culture.

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