Have you even been in a situation where you have been pulled into a meeting and you know nothing about the topic in discussion? Or, have you been in a meeting during which your mind is full of doubts and seemingly stupid questions? Well, this is not a rare occurrence and it has happened to almost all of us at some point.
It feels pathetic to be the first one to ask the seemingly ‘stupid’ questions for the fear of coming across as dumb or, worse, unprepared. More often than not, it is possible that the person sitting next to you is troubled by the same questions or doubts as yours, but you end up asking it first. So here’s how you can deal with such situations and make sure that you ask these supposedly unintelligent questions at important meetings in the right way:
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When you find yourself in an embarrassing position in which you need to ask a question but lack the knowledge to frame it right, make use of your ‘smart’ phone. The most important part of framing a question right is to have a bit of background and context in the subject of discussion. Research is your savior here. A quick under-the-table Google search might save you from being the butt of a lifetime of weird office jokes.
Do not be self-deprecating or apologetic while asking a seemingly unintelligent question. Instead, be confident. This will make you look more polished and intelligent. Make sure that you question is open-ended and frame it clearly with simple words and correct grammar.
Sometimes, it’s okay to fall back and take a chance. There is no shame in admitting that you don’t know something. Being curious and showing a willingness to learn is the sign of an intelligent person. So let go of your ego, forget your personal judgment and just go for it. Avoid using a judgmental or a critical tone while asking or clarifying your doubt.
When caught in an uncomfortable meeting, it is probably a good idea to lower your inquisitiveness a bit and be a good listener. Before trying to get your doubt clarified, and make yourself come off as a joke, listen to the speaker well. For all you know, they might have an answer to your question. So, be patient and try to gather as much information as you can before you decide to clarify your doubt.
It’s completely okay to be unfamiliar with certain topics, but you can cover this up smartly if you use the right technique. Show your colleagues that you have done some homework by saying things that you already know and by using phrases like, “In preparing for our talk today, I saw…” or, “I’ve read that …”
Whatever maybe the case, you must always understand that every doubt is important and there is no such thing as a ‘stupid question’. Overcome your fear, keep aside your ego and start asking. If nothing, you can at least get a good laugh out of it!