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How to ask Dumb Questions without Sounding Stupid?


In your career, in different stages you may be forced to ask questions. As you go high up the ladder, your task gets more and more tough and your ignorance can really weigh heavily on you. Even when you have a genuine doubt, asking it may make you appear dumb or stupid because you are expected to possess all the knowledge in the world. The higher designations usually expect that kind of perfection. It also means that even if asking a certain question is really necessary, you must know how to frame it intelligently and impressively. Here are a few simple tips and suggestions to help you ask questions that may actually be stupid yet not appear that way to the listener:

how ask dumb questionsHow to Ask Dumb Questions?

1. Cover Up Your Stupidity with Knowledge in Some Other Field:

It is quite possible and human that after working for years together in one particular field, you may lack knowledge about other fields while you still remain the master of your core field. This is a frequent happening and people still don’t know how to make use of the knowledge they possess to conceal their foolishness or ignorance.

For instance, if you have worked to market fashion apparels for several years, you may have intense knowledge in the field of fashion. If someone comes up with a query regarding the marketing of pressure valves, you may land up in deep trouble. This is because your marketing experience is in the fashion field and you lack knowledge regarding technical stuff. In such a scenario, when you have to ask questions or queries, you may start off by flaunting your knowledge and experience in the fashion field. You may phrase your answer as stated below.

‘I have been in the marketing of fashion apparels for the past 15 years and I am aware of every terminology related to clothing, accessories, apparels and fashion products. But I have never been fortunate to come across any project related to marketing of pressure valves. So kindly enlighten me on this terminology so that I may answer you.’
An ideal answer that justifies your lack of knowledge and does not make you appear like a fool is what most great managers use in such situations.

2. Appear Confident, It Is An Effective Cover:

Very often people easily fall for your looks or appearance. They feel what you seem is what you are. Hence, appearing confident can help you in most situations. A confident look is clearly visible through your dressing, grooming, gesture, tone and posture. Make sure all these are perfect. Have an erect posture and a confident tone when you speak. Do not fumble, waver or appear nervous. Maintain proper eye contact when you speak to people. Eye contact is the first way to show people you are sure of what you are saying.
Do not bite your nails, scratch your head or do anything that reveals you are tense or upset. Confidence is the first key to success. If you lack confidence, you cannot forge ahead even if you possess all the skills right.

3. Ask Feedback From Knowledgeable People in the Field:

When you are in a board meeting and a point rises which you do not clearly understand, it can be quite difficult for you to openly accept that you lack knowledge regarding the certain point in consideration.

Yet, it can be equally risky to carry on without understanding what exactly is being discussed. At some point, you may be regarded for opinions and you cannot give one if you lack knowledge regarding the point. So there needs to be an ideal method to tackle such a situation without ruining your image in the firm. The best way to tackle it would be to get feedback from knowledgeable people. Here is how you can get the feedback without showing yourself to lack knowledge.

‘Well, that seems like a great suggestion but I would like our Deputy Director’s opinion on the same before making a final decision. He has been in this industry for a very long time and maybe able to provide some useful insights that we haven’t considered yet.’

4. Do Not Openly Reveal Your Ignorance:

Many of us lack proper knowledge in certain field and yet there are few who lack the ability to conceal their ignorance or foolishness. While most of us manage to hide our lack of knowledge, there are some who really do not know how to. Revealing your foolishness or lack knowledge is a greater degree of foolishness. It is when you blurt out stupid questions that you are caught to be the real fool. In every occasion possible, try to hide your foolishness by speaking sensibly and listening attentively.

5. Stay Mum When You Can Afford To:

While in most circumstances, speaking up can really help, there are situations when you should choose otherwise. There are several individuals at various designations in many of the big firms who manage to hide their foolishness or lack of insight by simply staying mum.
Yes, you need to gauge the situation and if staying silent is advisable, opt for it. Yet, make sure that staying silent is the right thing to do in such a situation.

6. Ask Questions To Achieve Clarity of Thought:

Many times, the questions we ask are a result of confusion or half knowledge. If you possess half knowledge in a certain field, do not blurt out opinions before you have the complete knowledge. If asking questions will help you gain clarity in thoughts, do what is needed to have your doubts cleared.

It is best to ask the questions to an individual who has deep knowledge in the chosen field. If you have an opportunity to speak to the person individually, try to do so. This will allow you to gain vital knowledge while confiding in him. You will also prevent yourself from being teased in public for lack of knowledge.

7. Avoid Speaking Lots When You Know Nothing:

Those who speak too much give themselves away too soon. Intelligent people manage to cast a lasting impression on the minds of the audiences by speaking effectively. That is not the case when you lack knowledge on a certain topic and yet opt to speak. If you lack the knowledge, at least show the intelligence not to speak too much. It is when you speak too much that you reveal how less you know. This makes you a laughing stock in front of people.

Dumb Questions that Recruiters Frequently Ask:

When it comes to asking dumb questions, recruiters are the ones who have to be really careful. They ask a wrong question and ruin the impression on the mind of the candidate. It can affect the reputation of the company these recruiters represent. Very often the recruiters forget the responsibility they shoulder and naturally ask really dumb questions that are in no way related to the working ability of the candidate. Here we have listed a few of these questions and how it creates a negative image on the minds of the candidates.

1. What does your husband think about your working late hours?

The candidate is sure to wonder why you are bothered about her partner’s attitude towards her profession. If a candidate is work oriented, her husband’s attitude is not going to affect her work in anyway. The question is thus completely pointless.

2. Are you planning to get married soon?

Do not be taken aback if the candidate asks whether you have some nice proposal in mind. While most candidates won’t ask you that, they will surely wonder how marriage and work are connected.
It is an old school belief that married women tend to lose focus and do not do justice to the work at hand. In most cases, recruiters ask such questions to women which is really sexist and not correct.

3. Are you planning to have children?

A recruiter barely has any rights to ask personal questions to candidates. Moreover, apart from the few leaves, there is nothing else that would affect work. So a recruiter must strictly avoid asking such annoying and foolish questions regarding family planning to any candidate.

While this question may not bring anything positive out of it, it will surely have a negative impression on the mind of the candidate.

4. Describe a tough time in your career?

This is again a foolish question that most recruiters enjoy asking their candidates. If a candidate has had some tough time due to poor performance, he is sure to conceal it when the recruiter asks about it. If it is a health issue, there is really no use knowing about it.

So either ways, getting a candidate to describe a tough time in his or her career does not help at all.

Recruiters should strictly avoid asking such questions to their candidates and making a fool out of themselves.