I was traveling to attend my mother-in-law’s graduation, and on our way back home, we were very pressed for time. I noticed that there was a curbside bag drop that was empty, but inside the airport, the line was extremely long. I joined my husband in the long line inside, confused as to why no one was using the curbside service. After waiting in line for a few minutes, I figured it would not hurt to go outside and ask some questions. As I approached the kiosk, I overheard the attendant ask a lady “curbside service or bag drop?” She replied “bag drop”, and he directed her to the never-ending line inside. I stepped up to him, and he asked me the same question. “What’s the difference?” I responded. He said that the curbside service worked off of gratuities, but both areas would get your bag to its destination. I could not believe that the line forming inside could easily have stemmed from a lack of information or understanding. I quickly called my husband to join me, and we were checked-in in less than two minutes. Imagine if we never asked for clarity on the curbside service and proceeded to wait in the bag drop line like everyone else. By asking questions, you are never left at the mercy of misinformation. You can gather your own data and make solid decisions that may save you time, money, or your mental or physical health.
After this encounter, I was left thinking “Why do people not ask questions?” Here are a few reasons:
- Lack of confidence
- Often times when you are not sure of the next steps, you lack confidence in questioning the system or process. To avoid sounding “stupid”, we steer clear of questions altogether because we think it is something that everyone should know.
- Fear of questioning an “authority figure”
- This happens a lot when people visit a doctor’s office or their professor’s office hours. When someone who is an authority figure in your life makes a statement, it is easier to take what they say for face value because they should know what they are doing.
- Follow me syndrome
- When we see a group of people doing something, the logical next step is usually to copy them. I am sure some people saw the line forming at the bag drop and walked directly to it—no questions asked. The belief is that we cannot all be doing the wrong thing.
I believe these are all valid reasons to be hesitant to ask questions, but if you find yourself in any of these buckets constantly, you may be missing out on an opportunity. As we are confronted with information, always ask yourself:
- Do I understand what is being said?
- Sometimes, we allow pride to make us pay for things we could have had for free. There is nothing wrong with saying “I do not understand.” If you have an issue asking someone, at least take note of the question, and ask Google later (aka do your own research). Nonetheless, it is unacceptable to walk away from any situation with uncertainty.
- Do I see a clear path forward?
- Even if you understand every word spoken and concept explained, do you know what to do next? For example, you get a diagnosis from your physician that you have a sinus infection that can be treated with an antibiotic. She writes the prescription and turns to leave the room, but you are a bit confused. The document says to take the medicine twice a day, but you work at night and do not have access to your locker for hours on end. Is it okay for you to take the medicine once in the morning and right before work? Are there any side effects that may make your job more difficult when taking the drug? All these questions should be asked before the doctor moves on to the next patient. Even though you understand that this medicine will help fight the infection, you need clarification on how to use it in your day-to-day activities.
- Do I have a point of contact if additional issues or questions arise?
- Whenever possible, always ask for a follow-up or a point of contact for questions that may come up after processing the information. Let us go back to the doctor’s office example. If you receive a shocking diagnosis, you may be so overwhelmed with emotions that you forget to ask questions. At the very least, ask for a contact number or name of the physician so that you can follow up at a later date. Similarly, in my curbside drop-off example, I could ask for the exact name of the service and the person who helped me so that if anything comes up, I know exactly who to reference or go back to.
This week’s challenge is to create an FAQ for yourself or your business. If you are doing this for yourself, what are relevant questions that people ask you all the time? Note these questions and brainstorm concise answers that can serve as a suitable response. If you are doing this for your business, this will help you be proactive for when potential customers reach out. If you have these frequently asked questions listed in a personal document or any of your platforms, you will have a repository to rely on for when they inevitably come up. Then, you can copy and paste or use the answers you have already as a basis to your unique response. As always, business development begins with personal growth. You can book a complimentary consultation to learn more about how Prisca International can help you actualize your goals.