I’ve been thinking lately about the idea of “stupid questions.” I tend to place this concept in the same realm as “stupid people.” Putting the word “stupid” in front of another word rarely relates to the general intelligence of that person or thing. It is usually more a reflection on the speaker’s state of mind and means something along the lines of: “I don’t like it.” Whatever it may be.
A colleague used this phrase earlier this week, saying “I know this is a stupid question, I’ve asked it five times of five different people, but I can’t remember the answer, so…”
After hearing this question that he had managed to spit out, here were some of my thoughts. (1) There was nothing wrong with the question. (2) There was nothing wrong, or stupid, about the answer or the reason for asking the question. And the person asking the question? (3) Not wrong or stupid, though maybe a little tired and deeply-nestled in a web of multitasking.
Next time you are tempted to apologize for your own “stupid question,” consider these points.
My 2 cents: If you are using the label “stupid questions” as an apology or to save face, don’t bother. If it’s worth wondering, it’s worth answering. It’s not stupid to ask for information that you need.
My dollar-fifty: I’m going to think your question is “stupid” whether you tell me so or not. I have plenty of experience forming my own opinions and my assessment of your intelligence will not be enhanced by the fact that you knew it was a “stupid” question and then asked it anyway. If you are going to ask the question, just ask the question. No apology necessary.
Wondering about the questions other people ask? Disappointed that I didn’t offer an apology of my own? Check back soon to read more in my series about Stupid Questions.