31 January 2014
Just some months ago I started at Stora Enso on my first real job. As
any new employee, I needed to learn and I wanted to do it as fast as
possible. So, I asked questions. Many questions. Really many questions!
At one point, I even started wondering if I was too intrusive and it’d
be better to sit quietly and hope that understanding will come itself
One small occurrence cleared up my doubts. One day a colleague of
mine said after working with an external consultant: “There is something
wrong with this guy. I am worried about him: he has already worked for
us for 2 days but he hasn’t asked even one question!”
For some reason, when we were children, we were not afraid of asking
questions. In fact, we were asking great lots of them. As research
showed, a typical child can ask 200 questions a day. That’s the way
children learn about the world.
When people grow up, they begin to associate asking questions with
lack of knowledge. This is especially true in such cultures as Finnish,
where people prefer to keep their distance.
But why should we actually ask questions? I found 4 reasons for it:
To learn. In schools and universities we learn by asking question when something puzzles us. And so we do in a new work place.
To impress. Often by asking a smart question, you can make a good impression and thus build a reputation of a smart person.
To connect. When asking other people questions instead of
talking yourself, you can find common interests and establish
To bring change. By asking the question “why”, it is possible to
find practices that are not optimal, and, thus, establish grounds for
Asking questions is important in many ways. It can be beneficial in
studies, in career and in personal relationships. Besides, as the famous
proverb says: “There are no stupid questions. Only stupid answers”.