There’s Never a Dumb Question

I ask plenty of “dumb” questions every day. I use the word “ask” lightly because I’m usually yelling questions out to others across the newsroom.

Each editor has a different expertise that I’ve discovered over the last 10 months. I ask Charlie the “serious” questions on FOI rules and state laws. I ask Mike all the quote and news questions. And I ask Jenn all the AP Style questions.

In addition, I also ask my fellow reporters tons of questions. With Louisa, the newest to our trio, she always says she should know the answers to her questions, but I always tell her it’s better to ask then not. She contends that her questions are “dumb,” but, again, I always tell her there is no such thing. It’s just how some people work. I mean, if you need to know something, why not ask?

I think working the way we do promotes camaraderie and helps people get their questions answered. It eases the tension a lot without actually doing anything that requires a lot of time or resources. Plus, it helps everyone get along.

I tend to ask the same questions each week, but that’s how I learn. Thankfully, all of my coworkers have an insane amount of patience to deal with me.

My editors ask each other questions just as much as my fellow reporters. It’s how things are and how they will continue to be. We don’t know everything. Even if everyone else knows the answer to a particular question, it’s not “dumb.” It’s someone trying to figure something out, with the help of others.

From what I saw from my time in college, the hardest part is getting people to actually ask questions. Too many times you come across people who are either too afraid or too embarrassed to ask questions. It was painfully obvious, at times.

For anyone  to learn, they need to feel free to ask questions and share their thoughts. And they’ll never feel such freedom unless we as coworkers value their input rather than just evaluate it. It’s an easy change and an important idea to foster. I’m not in charge of anyone, but, if I were, I’d make it a point to have that kind of philosophy towards questions.

What do you think?

Jonathan

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One Response to There’s Never a Dumb Question

  1. Pingback: Better Interviewing | Just Starting Out

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