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February 08, 2007

Asking Dumb Questions

Have you ever asked a “dumb” question?

I was three months old in my career – making a presentation to some fairly senior people on a Quality Initiative that I was spearheading. Three slides into the presentation, I was asked by one of them “Whats your “deliverable” at the end of this? All I knew about deliverable that time was how to spell it. So what…..do I go ahead and admit that to this team, who were my management sponsors for the initiative and can at once dismiss me as being naïve ? Well yes…I did just that. “What do you mean by a “deliverable”? is what I asked without batting an eyelid. I got my answer. Which helped me give him the answer he wanted. And I got the support I needed for the initiative.

“What is the biggest skill that an HR professional needs today?”, is what I asked a
friend of mine. “Facilitation skills”, she responded with her characteristic depth and intensity, which her blog is so full of. I couldn’t agree more. And what is at the core of facilitation? Asking dumb questions.

“Is it so?”
“Why does that happen?”
“What do you think about this?”
“I don’t know the world you come from. Tell me more”.
“Is this what you are trying to say?”

We never have complete knowledge. And yet we need to get the big picture. We need to get to the bottom of things. And how do we do that? By asking dumb questions. And sometimes it could be as simple as a

Asking dumb questions requires character. It needs a combination of courage, humility and perseverance. Many
professionals get paid for it. On the flipside, many also get humiliated for it.

But if it is the only way of getting my answer, I would pay the price.


  • Why only HR Professionals? I think asking dumb questions are an integral part of anyone's learning curve. I felt good reading this. Thanks.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, 10 April, 2007  

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