Encouraging “dumb” questions

Many people do not have time for “dumb” questions but encouraging all questions will quickly bring greater transparency, trust and understanding to all forms of communication.

As a corporate trainer for over 25 years, I cannot count the number of times that I have heard someone in class say “that was my question too”.  Getting a class trusting enough to ask questions, is invaluable.  It can make the difference between a fine class and a great one.  Hint: it works the same in meetings too.

I approach this several different ways:

I always respond positively to all questions. Give all questions respect and space, answer them seriously and without signs of frustration or annoyance.

I ask the first “dumb” question (even if I know the answer).  Might as well be the one to break the ice.  Where is the Ladies room?  Is there a kitchenette nearby?  How do I get back to the parking garage?

If I overhear a question before class I will address it as part in class (without mentioning names).  This lets the attendees know that I am okay being asked whatever questions they have.

Encourage all questions – remember: One person’s dumb question is another person’s smart one.

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