None of us like to appear uninformed, uneducated, or ignorant. Where’s the glory in that? But none of us knows everything there is to know about business. Especially when we’re starting out and not even after years down the road. So, like it or not, there will be moments when we need to disclose our lack of knowledge about one thing or another: By asking proverbial “stupid” questions.
As they say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Of course, knowing that provides little reassurance when you’re fearing ridicule by your peers because you think you don’t know something that everyone else in the entire world already does.
We need to get over that!
The fact is, we don’t know what we don’t know until we realize we don’t know it. That doesn’t make us idiots. It just means some things haven’t been introduced into our frames of reference yet. When they finally are, we often need to ask basic (a.k.a. stupid) questions to understand them.
An embarrassing blast from my past when I wished I had asked a stupid question…
Back in college, I remember taking an essay exam in a P.R. course and one of the questions involved the concept of getting quotes (bids) from companies for providing their services. I was around 19 or 20 years old at the time (and an A student, I might add), and for whatever reason, I didn’t know that “to quote” meant to propose a price. (Amazing, I know.) Because of that, the question didn’t make complete sense to me, and I was too embarrassed to get clarification from my professor. So I fumbled through answering it the best I could. When my professor returned my graded test, he wrote a comment telling me that it was clear I hadn’t understood the question, and he wished I would have asked him about it. I got a C on that exam, when I likely would have gotten an A, if only I had put on my big girl pants and asked what seemed to be a stupid question. Seems to me, asking and getting an A would have been the smart move. Live and learn.
Not knowing something is excusable. Not asking questions to gain the knowledge you need when you realize you don’t know something is not.
And not asking questions can be downright damaging.
If you don’t ask questions (even when you think they’re stupid and believe everyone else knows the answers), here are a few of the things that could go wrong in your business…
- You could make serious errors in your bookkeeping and accounting.
- You could pay more than you should be for products and services.
- You could do something unintentionally illegal in how you manage your employees or independent contractors.
- You could be missing the mark with a product or service.
- You could be wasting time on the wrong social media networks.
- You could take projects in a different direction than your client envisioned.
- You could take on the wrong clients.
- You could take on the wrong projects.
- You could be taken advantage of.
Moral of the story: If you don’t know, ask!
Sure, it might be embarrassing for a minute or so. But after that initial hit to the ego is over, you’re left with an answer – and empowering information you didn’t have before.
By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post
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