No question is stupid!!


It’s funny how sometimes whenever we’re asked whether we have any questions, not many of us actually have questions.  Having been fortunate to experience both western and eastern cultures, I especially find this to be very true among my asian counterparts. It was evident during my school and college days, and sadly it’s also evident in my workplace, regardless of the fact that I have work in reputable companies which take “great pride” in hiring the best and brightest people out there!

I don’t know why some people are afraid of asking questions. While I do sometimes think the reason behind this is because some people weren’t just paying attention, ie – were not listening attentively, hence they really don’t know what to ask, there are a number of people out there who don’t ask questions simply because they’re just intimidated and afraid of looking stupid an incompetent?

 Stupid isn’t it?

I do realize that there are people out there who have been “trained” to ask only smart questions, and while I do respect that notion, I find it to be limiting and somewhat, “intimidating” cuz lets face it, are you asking the question to sound intelligent or are you asking the question because you don’t understand? The practical goal of answering a question is to enrich the knowledge for the poser of the question, to help him bridge the gap that he may had on a certain issue. The whole notion of asking only smart questions defeats the whole purpose of asking questions in the first place. We ask questions to clarify our doubts and uncertainties, not to sound smart or intelligent among fellow peers or impress the teacher. 


While posing smart questions to sound intelligent is not wrong, it’s definitely beyond the point.  During my days as a teaching assistant at uni, I’d always tell my students, “if you don’t know, just ask, don’t be afraid to ask even if it seems trivial to others”.   Granted some students are smarter and they tend to ask questions which require more thought and thinking, but not everyone is has a gifted mind like that. So just because someone isn’t that intellectually capable to ask thought-provoking question, does that make his question stupid and unimportant?

Absolutely not!

I guess some are just genuinely afraid to ask for fear of sounding stupid, to both their peers and their speaker.  Personally I too sometimes tend to limit the number of questions I would ask in a general symposium. What I usually do is approach the speaker in private or set up an appointment with him to further ask my questions. Maybe some folks do actually do that, which is good, but still there others out there who don’t. It irks me the most whenever I hear someone roll their eyes or scoff when another peer asks a somewhat “simple question”. It disrespects the individual and it makes it look as though you’re looking down on him! What may sound simple to you may not always sound simple to the next person.

The next time a person tells you “what a dumb question!

Tell him “then just give me a dumb answer”


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  • I guess it all boils down to our education system. In school, we were not trained to ask questions. And whenever we do, some students would giggle, and that makes us feel stupid. Again in university, especially in classes as HUGE as 200-300 students, WHO IN THE RIGHT MIND would raise their hand and ask a question without looking stupid?

    I always remind myself, “Malu bertanya, sesat jalan.”

  • i couldn’t agree more with pelf. i remember in college when sometimes i would ask questions and although i felt that it did sound stupid, i knew that if i didn’t ask, i wouldnt find out if it REALLY was a stupid question. so yes, ask and u shall receive….hopefully. 😉

  • If you watch South Park, there’s an episode where Mr Garrison said, “There are no stupid questions. Only stupid people.” Haha.

    I blogged about the difference between the US-educated and the British-educated recently. At work, US-educated people tend to take more risks like asking questions at a staff meeting. The local- and Bristish-eds tend to sit back with arms folded. Just an observation.



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