Can I ask you all of my ignorant questions? Honestly? Most people’s answer to this particular question is no. What would be your most immediate response to this question?
Psychologists agree that when people ask other people “ignorant” questions, most people feel uneasy and are often upset when asked.
So, what questions can be classified as ignorant questions?
Why ask an ignorant question?
For some, an ignorant question is when a person believes the question has already been answered, so why bother asking it?
It is scientifically proven that we learn about life by asking questions. Some common questions people ask about life are, for example:
• How do people see me?
• What / to whom did I do good today?
• Am I true to my values?
More importantly, answers to the most complicated life questions are resolved on our own.
Ask life questions
When faced with life questions, we pull from our life experiences to formulate the best possible answers. So living life is a great way to become a life expert. Over time, the compilation of our lived experiences shapes who we are in one way or another.
This is not yet evident when children are just beginning to go through life. For this reason, they love asking all kinds of questions. For example, through questions, children learn cause and effect relationships.
When thinking critically about storytelling, identifying cause and effect relationships within the story helps young readers focus their understanding of the story. The story’s focus is on what happens in the story and how it happened. What and how are two important elements of understanding. As an educator, it is important to develop a good understanding among young readers. Good understanding helps readers determine what is important, what and is a fact.
Going back to the types of questions, while some people will agree and others will disagree with the definition of an ignorant question, the most affirmative common denominator is the what and why questions.
Nonetheless, there are misinformed questions or poorly formulated questions. Poorly formulated questions can be dangerous. Misinformed questions typically contain incorrect assumptions. For this reason, it is important to understand the what and the why of questions to avoid making incorrect assumptions.
Sadly, most incorrect assumptions lead to negative reactions. Negative reactions invite conflict and misunderstandings. The good news is that we can avoid conflict and misunderstandings by avoiding negative assumptions.
Avoid making negative or incorrect assumptions
To avoid making negative or incorrect assumptions, we must clarify our communication. Most people make assumptions, but unfortunately, these assumptions tend to be negative.
Patience allows a person’s ideas to be fully communicated. And yes, an individual’s ideas are important but not more important than anyone else’s, and these ideas sometimes take time to be fully expressed and understood. A key takeaway here is always clarifying the assumptions about the sender and receiver parts of the message.
A receiver can do this by listening carefully, taking notes, or rephrasing what is being said by restating the message using their own words. By doing this, a listener can communicate to a speaker that they care about what is being said.
It is also recommended to avoid interrupting the speaker. If one must interrupt, one can gently indicate a pause to reflect on all that has been said.
Be a good listener
Overall, based on the Harvard Review, good listening skills help workers avoid conflict and misunderstandings by clarifying potentially incorrect assumptions. We benefit when we communicate well with each other.
Another issue with incorrect assumptions is inadvertently reacting to a perceived situation that may not accurately reflect what is happening due to hasty assumptions and judgments about the other person’s behavior.
Good listening skills improve human relationships and are an important tool for clarifying assumptions. Good listening skills help us develop the confidence necessary to lead and inspire a team, or to learn from others.
A word of caution. Although good listening skills allow the senders and receivers of messages to receive and interpret and process messages accurately, it is important to remember that this mainly comes from being willing to listen to others.
Here is the best example. There were Adam and Eve, who could eat fruits from all the trees except one. Yes, there were many trees in the garden. But God said that Adam and Eve could eat fruit from all but one tree. Then Adam and Eve ate the fruit and hid from God. Sometime later, God joined them and pretended not to know where and how they were. Adam and Eve felt vulnerable and were naked.
In these passages, God asked Adam, “Adam, where are you?” Theologically, this is a topic of a long conversation. Yet, Bible scholars agree that when God asks, “Adam, where are you?” the LORD intended to bring Adam to a place of responsibility. Accountability makes us better communicators and also encourages us to communicate expectations effectively. We benefit from being accountable for how we communicate.
Research about asking this kind of questions
Research has found that good listening skills promote positive workplaces. Organizations and decision-makers agree that good listening skills facilitate communication with the people they lead. Good listening skills increase employee confidence and reduce conflicts in the workplace.
In short, regardless of how we feel about or define an ignorant question, by asking a question, we communicate a need or desire to learn. A key takeaway is having the willingness to listen, to honor the question, and, more importantly, to honor the need or desire to learn.
A question is an open invitation to relate to others and build others. By answering others, we build ourselves.