We got two of our senior designers, Chandra Shekhar Ghildiyal (Graphics/Games) and Anne Roy (ID), to discuss the Big Question for February. Their original idea was to come up with a list of intelligent questions. But during the discussion, they were drawn into some fundamental issues.
What do you do before asking a question?
Do you think of the implications of asking that question? This is especially important if the question is asked during a face-to-face meeting or in informal conversation. You usually get more time to word a document carefully.
Have you ever wished you could take a question back?
Do you always preempt the answer? Blurting out a question without thinking it through is almost always a mistake. Tailor your question so that you get an answer that is specific and meets your purpose.
Do you attempt to find the appropriate person to question? Do you try to get an insight into that individual?
Do you check that your questions are appropriate for the culture and the situation?
Why are you asking the question?
Identify your motives. Do you want to indicate that you are processing information? Are you asking questions to be noticed?
Are you trying to direct the questioning to the answer that you want? This kind of questioning works in presentations and training programs. A question may activate a new line of thought or may lead to thinking out of the box just like this month’s Big Question.
Why are you not asking questions?
Asking questions displays curiosity and an eagerness to learn. It’s a cliché that if you are not asking questions, you are not learning. Then why is it that sometimes you don’t ask questions?
Are you trying to avoid the limelight? Are you afraid of expressing your ignorance? Or is it because you don’t expect to get any answers?
Is the environment at your workplace conducive to asking questions?
Should you be concerned if you work in a place where people don’t actively question the status quo? Should you be disturbed if no one asks you questions? Does that mean you don’t answer questions consistently? Or that you are not accessible? Or that you answer questions with motherhood statements? Or that you are known not to take action? Should you actively increase your availability and accessibility?
You can't set up a question a day or provide a list of questions to ask; you need to create an atmosphere where asking questions is encouraged. Maybe then more of the questions posed will be the ones we should be asking.