Silly Questions with Obvious Answers

KopfschmerzenI’ve been asking some pretty silly questions lately.  Well .. I don’t think they are silly. There are some things I simply don’t know or am unclear on and in many cases, the most efficient way to get the information I need is to ask a seemingly silly question to the person in the know.

The responses to my questions have been mainly positive.  By far the majority of people are very willing to answer in a friendly, supportive manner. They understand that my lack of knowledge is based on the simple fact I don’t know their business the way they do. They would rather I ask the seemingly silly questions with the obvious answer, than that I leave the conversation with misconceptions or misunderstandings.

There have been one or two that give back a “Wow … dumb question” attitude. Their attitude is one of superiority or condescension. They assume lack of intelligence, something very different than lack of knowledge, and move into over-explaining mode, going on and on, in minute detail or check back way too often with the question “Do you understand what I’m saying?” As a woman, I get the occasional ‘dear’ tacked on the end of that question as well.

I don’t like being treated that way.  I imagine you don’t like it. Which is why it is so important to ensure our customers or potential customers are never treated that way either. We are the experts on our business and we will get asked questions that to us, seem like ‘doh’ questions.  But it doesn’t matter what we think. If someone is asking us a question, it’s because they have a question. Perhaps they know the answer but hope they are wrong or that an exception will be made. (I’ve done that one .. anyone else?).

Regardless of how seemingly silly the question or obvious the answer, share the information requested in courteous, polite and genuinely friendly way.  It may be the one thing that closes the sale or sends your potential customer to your competitor.



2 thoughts on “Silly Questions with Obvious Answers

  1. I love this article! I am a firm believer in asking questions when you do not know the answer. For years I struggled with thinking I was weak in asking for help, but I have learned it is quite the opposite. It takes a person of great strength to realize that something is beyond their knowledge and they need to defer to someone more experienced; life is a learning curve.

    I follow the mentality that the only dumb/silly questions are the ones that go unasked. I walk the walk and talk the talk with this frame of mind. It is a great pet peeve of mine when people talk the talk; however when it comes to them having to take the time to answer a question they minimize it or make it seem so trivial that you would bother even asking them.

    One can argue that these questions prevent corporate inertia. Personally I have had at least one experience when I asked a question and that question brought up the fact that the original reasons for the policy were no longer relevant and needed to be updated to match the goals of the organization. Conversely, it has also brought clarity to the entire workplace when each employee was working off a variation of actual policy.

    I have embraced the glances and occasional eye rolls when I ask a question that may seem “silly” to the recipient and try to put it in the frame of mind that they are at least acknowledging that I am being proactive and have the organizations best interests at hand.

    • “questions prevent corporate inertia” … lots of wisdom in four words. Being willing to ask and answer questions with sincerity and positive intention is key to personal, professional and corporate growth. Thanks for sharing and expanding on this topic, Jeff.

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