There are No Stupid Questions

I had to get a new pair of earbuds the other day, I listen to my Ipod constantly and am very hard on my earphones. This morning as I was putting them in I looked down and noticed there was a little “R” and “L” letting me know which one should go in which ear. Really? Does this make a difference? Is it going to affect the sound quality if I put the R in the L ear? Nope, it didn’t, I just tried.

Of course this little exercise of futility got me thinking about instructions and why they are needed. Oh we have all heard the jokes about the hair dryer that says not to use it in the bathtub and how we have never been in that big of a hurry to get ready. Or the Preparation H and not to use that product orally. I’m not touching that one.

We can all have a good laugh; however, I also realize that sometimes the “simple” instructions are needed because others have not had the fortune of our own experience. Let go of the Preparation H joke now, follow me.

When I teach a class often times I get a question which to me might seem like a no-brainer; however I have to remember that writing a resume is not taught to us as children or adults and it is a scary process. I encourage all and any questions because I realize people just really do not know and they are more afraid of doing something wrong than taking a chance of doing something right. You may think that asking if you should put your name on the second page would seem silly, but not knowing the “rules” can intimidate someone into inaction. Fear makes us second-guess everything.

Think about it, the only way you know some of these rules are because you were taught in one way or another. Either by a parent, teacher, boss, co-worker, or perhaps picked it up overhearing a conversation. We were not born with a set of rules automatically programed into us.

The next time your child, co-worker or even a stranger asks you a question which you think should be common sense, take a second to remember that not everyone knows what you do. If you mock or shame this person for asking you could really be doing some major damage. What if your child feels so badly for asking what they were just told was a “silly” question and that makes them so embarrassed that they stop asking questions in class?

There is nothing wrong in not knowing the answer to something. What may be common sense to you isn’t to me and visa versa. I used to be embarrassed to ask questions, I did not want to look “stupid” or uneducated. I got over it. I realize that I just don’t know everything and the only way I am going to know the information I want to know is to ask. So I ask, and I ask a lot of questions. Not only did I get over this fear I totally conquered and destroyed it to the point that I ask A LOT of questions because I want to understand things completely.

When my boys were growing up they knew that my house was one were you were not judged and could ask any question. Before they went off to college and the service some of them stopped by to have one of our talks and they all said they appreciated the fact that I never made them feel stupid. That no matter how silly the question was I would always answer and treated them with respect, they felt safe here and respected. What greater gift can you give a child than by a creating these two feelings just by not mocking them but rather simply answering a question?

Occasionally I am still mocked for asking questions that others assume should be common knowledge and I just laugh it off. I have also learned to laugh at myself. I can deal with a little mockery and teasing. The way I see it, I would rather have a moment of embarrassment than a lifetime of ignorance.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Transition Strategist
Career Polish, Inc.

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