I firmly believe there is no such thing as a dumb question. If you don’t know the answer to something, ask. And if people laugh at you or roll their eyes in annoyance, they were the wrong person to ask. It is never the question that should be in question.
I remember visiting Scott’s grandmother in the hospital years ago. I can’t remember what she was in there for, but I know it wasn’t good. We were in the waiting room for a long time and then invited back to see her. I stood up and went to follow everyone but looked down at the cold, dimly-lit hallway and hesitated. My soon-to-be father-in-law gave me a curious look. I had a question that I wasn’t sure how to ask. And then, I just asked it.
“What will I see when I go in there?” I asked him. Having visited my own grandparents in the hospital many times, I never asked the question beforehand. I would just follow people into the room, hope for the best, and expect the worst. But, it had been a while since I was in this particular situation. I had seen some things in the past that made me uncomfortable. So, I asked. My father-in-law smiled and reassured me that she looked like herself and was attached to only a few machines, but it was nothing scary. And then, as we walked down the hallway toward her room, he gave me a little squeeze to reassure me it was all good.
I breathed a sigh of relief for two reasons. First, I honored my instincts and asked the question so I knew what to expect. Second, to his credit, my father-in-law didn’t laugh at my question. He showed me kindness and alleviated my concerns.
This is a memory that comes to mind often when I have questions I’m afraid to ask. Like, every day, I have another social media question for the younger (and much more knowledgable) staff members. Can I post a picture to Instagram from my laptop? And can I add a link to the comments of the post so people can go directly to the website? The answers are – no and no. I have to upload the images from my phone and sign up for something called Linktree. That’s it. No eye-rolls. No laughing. Instead, I got the answers I needed to do my job.
As I approach my 50th year, I have questions. There are some I don’t ask, but not because I’m afraid of what people will think of me. Thankfully, I learned to give up those concerns in my 40’s. It’s because I wonder what will happen after I ask them or worse if I don’t ask them at all. And yes, I’m purposely vague on what those questions are because that’s not what’s important. For now, just like in that dimly-lit hallway, I am summoning up the courage to ask, and I remind myself that there are no dumb questions. I can only hope I am met with smiles, hugs, kindness, and answers.