Children learn more, and they learn faster than adults. No, it's not because they're smarter. It's because they ask questions.
Harvard Business Review found that children ask questions about 70-80% of the time they talk. Adults only ask questions about 15-25% of the time.
As adults, we're taught to be more compliant and hide any lack of knowledge. At work, asking questions can sometimes frustrate others, lead to isolation, or even be considered threatening.
Here's the thing: If you don't know something— if you don’t understand something, there’s a good chance that the people around you probably don't know either. If no one asks a question, the discussion moves on, and everyone is left confused.
Then who benefits? No one. That's why you need to ask questions when you don't know the answer.
Asking the right questions is key though. Unfortunately, there are stupid questions. Learn to ask great questions with these skillful tips.
1. Know Your Goal
Do you need to know about something new or clarify something? Make sure you understand your intention and where you want the conversation to go.
2. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Asking a yes or no question usually means you’re getting an incomplete answer. Ask questions with “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “how,” or “why.”
3. Ask Follow-Up Questions
Asking questions like “what do you mean” or “why do you think that,” means you’re really listening and eager to learn. Follow-up questions reveal hard facts about the answer you were given. Even asking for an example is a great way to follow-up.
4. Leverage Silence
Being silent after asking a question gives the person responding plenty of time to think about their answer. Plus, the less you talk, the more inclined they are to elaborate. Be patient and you’ll get more information.
Don’t ever be embarrassed to ask questions. Be proud of wanting to know the answer.
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." - Albert Einstein
In our modern world, we have the answer to every question readily available in our pockets (i.e. your smartphone). But you can learn more from talking with your friends and coworkers.
For the next week, look at life with a childlike wonder. Ask questions about everything.
You'll be shocked at what you learn. After all, you never know what you don’t know.