Join LinkedIn Learning Staff Instructor for an in-depth discussion in this video How to ask questions at work, part of Job Skills: Learning the Basics.
- [Woman] We all have questions, especially when we start a new job. But a lot of the time we're afraid of looking stupid, like we should already know the answer. But that's ridiculous right? How would we know? So what's the best way to ask, not look dumb, and get the answer you need? First, start with the help me understand that approach that gets at specifics. If you were told to welcome the customer but it's not really clear what welcome means exactly, you could say, help me understand what you mean by welcome, in order to get at specific examples.
Second, make sure you get the answer you need. Sometimes after we ask, the answer is still unclear. So state what you think that answer might be by offering an example yourself. Third, keep a calm and pleasant tone. How we ask can be as important as what we ask. Can you just explain this it me, is not about asking for an answer, it's about challenging the answer with your frustration. Sometimes people who have expertise have forgotten what it's like to be new at something.
Give them the benefit of the doubt and keep calm and carry on. Finally, if asking questions is too hard to do in the moment, like you get nervous or you just don't know what to say, then wait and write down your questions so you can just ask them later. Some of us aren't so good on our feet. We need time to reflect and consider but we still need an answer so don't wait too long. At the next opportunity, follow up and say, you know how you said earlier about welcoming the customer, well I just want to make sure that I understand what you mean by welcome so that I can do it right.
Be not afraid. Questions are signs of true interest and intelligence. So ask away!