THE BLOG

Asking Questions Is Really Hard

04/14/2015 10:56 am ET | Updated Jun 14, 2015
Robert Churchill via Getty Images

I don't know about you but it seems to me that it has really become a very difficult thing to ask questions of other people and it is causing me a real problem. I don't ask a question unless I need an answer that I don't have. I need to ask questions in order to clarify assignments that I need to complete in order to assure that I am doing what is requested. I need to ask questions in order to assess my participation in any operation in which I might be interested. I also need to ask questions for the biggest questions in my life such as health and investing and career changes but sometimes, I don't know what to ask. In fact, the more I think about asking questions, the more questions I have about what to do.

I've tried to figure out why asking questions has become so difficult and I think that at least part of it may be because of the Internet. If we have a question, we are now in the habit of going online and searching for the information that way. Gone are the days when we would turn to our parents or others who were what we considered to be the authority in their areas in order to have our questions answered. Now we head to the computer to find answers to just about anything we want to know. This has virtually destroyed our abilities to communicate with one another and learn valuable information from discussions and personal interactions.

This goes even a bit deeper. The straight answer to a question also takes away the value that we would have given to another individual in the past when they were able to answer our questions because of their own hard work or study or experiences. For example, we can learn about what happened during World War II from any one of hundreds of websites but what a difference we have if we speak to a soldier or sailor who was there and can give us the unique opportunity to hear about a first-hand experience. But, such experiences are now being lost as is the appreciation for those who are able to answer our inquiries from a personal perspective.

Now, it seems, when you ask someone a question, they become defensive. They may ask you why you want to know or they may tell you to go look it up for yourself. We are not use to answering questions so we have lost that ability to respond and interact with others because of lack of experience. We may question why someone is asking us a question because we think they are just trying to test us to prove that we are not smart enough to know the answer. We may not answer because we are too lazy to do so when we can send the other person off to ask someone else or to go and find the information for themselves. But worst of all, if we make an assumption about the other person who is asking us the question, we lose completely the opportunity that we have to address the question and help the other person or to acknowledge that we don't have the answer and learn the answer together.

There is one other scenario that can't go unmentioned. I find that some times, I don't know what questions to ask. A perfect example is when we receive a medical diagnosis. Sure, we can go to the computer and start looking for answers on how to treat our particular problem but nothing compares to our talking to a specialist who has seen this problem many times over and has learned how to treat it based upon the individual.

No book or medical website can give us all of the information about any one particular problem let alone provide us with the answers regarding what is best for us on a personal basis. Likewise, no doctor can know everything about every problem and all of the latest information that has been discovered in a particular area so it is important to learn as much as possible to discuss with your doctor the next time we meet so that other options might be up for consideration.

So please understand that the next time I ask you a question, it is because I need your help. I don't ask questions about things for which I already have an answer. And if I ask you a question that doesn't make sense to you, please know that I am doing my best to inquire about something that I obviously don't have enough information to even ask the proper questions, so help me out. Please take the time to help me to break down my inquiry into smaller pieces that might make some sense to you so that you can reply. And most importantly, don't become impatient with me because the next time I need to ask someone a question, I probably won't do so because of the results from my last attempt to do so and my not asking those questions just might result in my making an uninformed decision to do something that just might cause me my life.