KM on a dollar a day

Musing on knowledge management, aid and development with limited resources

Lack of curiosity killed the cat

with 5 comments

Seth Godin blogged some time ago lamenting  how as adults we lose the ability to ask questions.

Why do we stop asking questions? Here are a few reasons I can think of, perhaps you can think of more:

1. We don’t want to appear dumb

2. We want to fit in, and don’t want to rock the boat

3. We are used to the status quo.

4. We’ve been burned by asking questions before.

5. Asking questions doesn’t get us real answers.

6. We are not paying attention.

7. We don’t really want to hear the real answers to the important questions we have.

I recall many a time sitting in university lecture theatres, or even at office workshops after a presentation and invariably there would be few or no questions. I was often the one to ask the first “stupid question”.

It IS hard to ask questions as an adult, but if we don’t ask –  we are not able to learn, to clarify, or to challenge. Without questions we are stuck with misunderstanding or with accepting the status quo.

So I have two suggestions:

1. Ask more questions, even “stupid” questions.

2. Encourage others to ask questions. And if you are a presenter, or a boss create a safe space for others to ask questions of you. Make them feel comfortable – even if you are not. And of course do your best to answer them, including admitting when you don’t have the answer.


Written by Ian Thorpe

June 20, 2012 at 9:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. Reason one is that in school at 4 or 5 we are put in a chair and told to be quiet and sit still ….


    June 20, 2012 at 10:05 am

    • Indeed. It’s a good job some of us didn’t follow instructions 🙂

      Ian Thorpe

      June 20, 2012 at 10:35 am

  2. […] Read more here: Lack of curiosity killed the cat […]

  3. Ian, Nice post…to your list of reasons I’d add that asking questions often seems to slow us down. The right questions may save time/energy/resource later but that’s not always clear in the moment. That’s often a big challenge, especially in organizations that are “action focused.” Have you found good ways to encourage leaders to ask more questions and/or create safer spaces for other to do so?

    josh joseph

    June 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm

  4. Sadly I think WJPel’s comment is spot on. Working in a multi-cultural environment seems to amplify this tendency to sit and be quiet even more. It’s most unfortunate, as it defeats the power of diversity working together.

    Michael Riggs

    June 22, 2012 at 3:24 am

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