I remember watching a TV show years ago about lawyers. I don’t remember what the show was or anything about it, except for one line. It was a senior lawyer speaking to a junior lawyer and he said, “Don’t ask a question you don’t already know the answer to.” And in the context of his line of work, I might agree.
In fact, I love that statement for so many reasons. If we want to control the situation, we must make sure we are asking questions that focus and guide the person to whom we are asking the question. To do that, we must know the answers. This is a powerful means of helping others bring out the best in themselves and is a subject we will dive into more later.
Yet at the same time, in other contexts, I don’t like that quote. Why? Because oftentimes there are questions we don’t ask that, for our development, we should.
Without asking ourselves questions, for example, we stunt our growth. We limit our exploration and discovery of our potential and the potential of those we care about. The options we have before us are left unexplored. We can become stagnant, apathetic, and worse, we may fall behind in our growth as a human.
The same goes for questions we don’t ask others. We limit their potential growth, capacity, and motivation because the answers are left unrealized.
Why don’t we ask questions we ought? Sometimes the answer to this lies within the above quote: We know what the answer is but we don’t want to face it.
How many times do we know that our career is not going anywhere, but we don’t want to question it because it will interupt the status quo? How often do we not ask a teenager the tough questions because we don’t want to damage our relationship with them? How often do we not ask an employee a question about their behavior because it is just better that we don’t know what is really going on or we don’t want to deal with it right now?