Our Director, Steve, recently talked about “orientar”….We weren’t too sure what he was talking about, maybe the Christmas cheer had got to him, so we asked him to elaborate for us:
This time of year, I’m reminded that there was a time – admittedly a very long time ago – when I was too embarrassed to ask the meaning of “orientar” (as in “we three kings of”). Yes, I was in the primary school nativity play.
Now, I know that there’s no such thing as a silly question, but there can be silly answers. There’s a quotation that is attributed to Einstein, probably wrongly, which goes like this: “It’s not getting the right answer that’s difficult, it’s asking the right question!” Where would I be now, I wonder, if I had been able to question things more in my childhood?
That’s the reason that I now frequently say to my children, “That’s a really good question, I’m glad you asked”.
And at the beginning of my training courses, I always say “please ask questions at any time, and definitely stop me if I use any jargon, abbreviations, or TLAs (three-letter-acronyms) that I haven’t explained. If you have a question, I’ll bet others in the room would like to know the answer too.”
In all of our training courses we are very clear that we’re there to meet the needs of the attendees and not just present to an agenda, so ask as many questions as you need to!
The importance of asking questions is also true of project management. Gaining as much information from the client as you can during the discovery phase can help avoid unexpected surprises later. Asking questions also builds a level of trust with the client and sets open and honest communication as the precedent. Some clients may not enjoy being asked lots of questions that they don’t know the answer to, so consider sending the questions in advance of a meeting so they can prepare the answers for you.
And finally, the more questions we ask, the better we get at it and the better answers we receive.
So the only bad questions are the ones you don’t ask!