Ask a stupid question day: Why young journalists and creatives shouldn’t be afraid to ask 'stupid' questions
Asking questions in your studies or the workplace can feel extremely daunting – but why? Is it our fear of inconveniencing others or looking silly, or is it because we feel as if it appears that we are incompetent or haven’t listened to our superiors or teachers? These feelings of apprehension are completely normal – and although what we may feel or interpret as a ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’ question can actually make us look smarter and will demonstrate our curiosity and willingness to learn.
Sometimes we also wrongly blame ourselves and question our abilities when we ask ‘obvious’ questions – when in actuality this important knowledge isn’t shared because it is expected to be innate. This makes it even harder and discouraging for those from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed in the workplace; as ‘basic’ information such as dress codes and the way we behave in social situations isn’t explained and is an assumption made by employers.
In order to help you combat these feelings of apprehension, we have a created a list of reasons why we shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions as a young journalist and creative in the media – and how we can overcome the fear of sounding ‘stupid’ and become the best version of ourselves.
You aren’t the only one with questions
Whether you are at school, university or in the workplace – most of the time you aren’t the only one in a room afraid to ask a ‘stupid’ question. The fear of embarrassing ourselves or appearing silly in front of our peers or co-workers is common – and we mutually share the worry of being met with “obviously” or “you should know that”. However, these concerns can hold us back as young journalists and creatives. Remember, subjects and topics can be broad and subjective without definite ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers. Therefore, we need to question everything to ultimately broaden our knowledge and to experience new ways of thinking and perceiving.
Tip: Remember, you ask Google first, or ask in 1-2-1 conversations or in smaller groups and meetings. You shouldn’t have to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation to gain more information – although the more frequently you reach out and ask the easier it will inevitably become and your confidence, in turn, will grow.
People will respect your willingness to learn
As a student or young person at the beginning of their career in the media industry you will inevitably have heaps to learn. Although asking more senior colleagues or peers questions may seem daunting, it shows your interest and willingness to gain more information about a subject. It is therefore important when studying or in the workplace to make the most of the media professionals and experts around you. They will in turn respect your desire to learn and improve.
Questions facilitate discussions
Whether in a classroom or a newsroom – a question can spark a positive debate amongst a team or group of people leading to important and new ways of thinking. Without these discussions – how will views and ideas stay current and informative? Sometimes we make the mistake of assuming once something has already been discussed or if we feel as if it is ‘common knowledge’ that we shouldn’t therefore ask a question about it – remember we should always reevaluate topics or subjects where we feel necessary.
Questions build emotional intelligence and improve your communication skills
Asking questions can build emotional intelligence and improve your soft skills which are essential within the media industry. They strengthen your ability to articulate and communicate effectively and to also overcome challenges and difficult situations. Whether you ask a detailed question, or just “why?” – this will not only help us become better at what we do but bring a sense of control and self-belief. This will benefit you in the short and long-term with interpersonal relationships; and will build and develop your leadership skills and will prepare you for your career.
Asking questions is a strength not a weakness
The ability to reach out and ask a question or for help is a strength and is a respectable skill that will benefit you in both your personal and professional life. Not only does it demonstrate initiative, it also exhibits your ability to communicate and your desire to grow. Remember, no one knows everything – even those with 20+ years experience in the media industry still have plenty to ask and to learn (from you?)
Although reaching out and asking questions or for help can seem scary as a young person; these actions are truly essential for personal and professional growth. Stepping out of your comfort zone and asking questions, regardless of whether you feel as if they are simple or ‘stupid’, will improve your journalistic and communication skills and your self-confidence. Remember – asking a question or for help and guidance is a strength and demonstrates initiative and curiosity – and should never be considered a weakness.
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