There are no stupid questions

When I was in the first grade, my teacher reminded me that there is no such thing as a stupid question (although I’m sure it was said in more of a child-friendly way). While I’m not sure if this was the first time I heard the extremely cliche phrase, I know for certain that it has stuck with me ever since. Through the use of this common phrase, progressing through the years of my life people have continued to encourage me to ask questions. The phrase has found a way to surface in a variety of different places. High-school, summer jobs, university, and even my life at home. Whether it be in a professional or educational setting, I am constantly encouraged to ask questions– but why? Years later, at age 20, I decided to dig a little deeper and ponder the idea of question asking. So here I am asking and answering the following questions about question asking… 

How the cliche phrase encourages learning

By saying that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, you encourage people to seek out knowledge. The common phrase indirectly reminds people that failure can often be a part of this process – and that failure is more than okay. Until recently, I’ll admit I lived in fear of failure. I’ve always had a fear of not sounding smart enough, especially when asking a question. I’ve come to realize that this is all in my head. So if you’re thinking the same thing, I want to encourage you to snap out of that mindset. More often than not, the person you are chatting with wants to foster a genuine conversation in which you’re both able to benefit from. Even small talk conversations most often start with the question of ‘how are you?’ For a conversation to reach its fullest potential, you need to be willing to ask questions, even if they’re outside of your comfort zone. It’s as simple as this; you get out of a conversation what you put into it. If you’re not willing to ask questions, pushing boundaries can be quite a challenge.

How asking questions can help people other than yourself

Soon after coming to the understanding that asking questions encourages learning, I realized that there is someone else with the same question most of the time. This is yet another reason why you should ask questions continuously. By speaking your mind and asking your questions, you may provide others with more insight into a topic. Think about how often someone has asked a question that leads you to understand something to a larger extent. Additionally, you may spark a question in someone else’s mind that you would never have thought of which can help you take on a new point of view and spark even more questions. Asking questions is a task that is beneficial for all, so if you’re still not ready to benefit personally from asking questions, do it for everyone else that may benefit from your questions. 

The importance of questioning our society

While many people are frequently told that there is no such thing as a stupid question, others sometimes are met with the phrase you as too many questions. There seems to be no sweet spot in between, why? Maybe this is because there are many weird social norms in society that we are told not to question. Maybe this is because people are so hyper- aware and hyper-sensitive. Our society is so hyper-mediated that disagreements in which you can learn from, and accept defeat in can be hard to come by. The same goes for productive questioning. So it is important to push boundaries and push back. It is important to understand that while the inquisitive nature of question asking is often stressed, there are people out there that also don’t want to hear what’s on your mind – and that’s okay. At the end of the day, asking questions should not please anyone other than yourself. Although it may spark disagreement, this will still have the ability to open your eyes to a new perspective and have incredibly productive conversation. Sometimes these perspectives may not align with your beliefs, and so you can use it as a learning opportunity to engage with a topic in a way that you usually do not. 

Why even say that there’s no such thing as a stupid question

Asking questions is important as it contributes to your ability to succeed. The next time someone says a version of one of these phrases to you, take advantage of the opportunity to explore new subjects. Remember that the person is encouraging you to keep seeking knowledge to help you reach your fullest potential. Without asking questions, our society may fall into a rut that’s extremely hard to get out of. Asking questions allows you, and the people around you to grow.

So, ask away!


HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: @stefmorgante –

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