Is there such a thing as a stupid question? I say yes, I think there is. I think stupid questions are questions that people that fill time but don’t get to the root of an issue. I think stupid questions are questions that are so generic they can’t help anyone, including the person asking them. I think stupid questions are questions you ask because you know the answer or think you do, and you are more interested in sharing your answer than learning from the person you are asking.
So you might think I am an anti-question guy. On the contrary—I think question-asking is a skill all good leaders own. In my opinion there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you ask someone a question.
1. Am I willing to be vulnerable? Most awful questions come from here. We want to sound like a good leader, not a good learner. I am a leader but guess what—I am a learner. I don’t know lots of stuff. If you want to ask a good question, be vulnerable enough to ask something that isn’t so generic it doesn’t help anyone.
2. Can I find the answer to my question on Google? Don’t ask questions you can Google on your iPhone. Ask something that demands the person you are asking to think before they answer, to ask clarifying questions to help understand what you are trying to say.
3. How am I going to apply the answer I receive from the question I am asking? Am I asking this question to gain more information? Or am I looking for ways to apply it and have it help me grow? Questions asked from a framework of application rather than from knowledge acquisition will always lead to growth.
One of the things I love most is how Jesus was able to cut to the core of an issue. He saw past the question to the heart of the matter. He also answered lots of questions with even better questions. In order to ask better questions of others, I think we need to start by asking ourselves better questions first.