How to ask questions at work compassionately

I was having a discussion with an intern about how it’s quite possible that whatever I say or do or that a colleague does is “wrong” or at least not the best solution and how they should feel free to comment on that with their thoughts.
It’s really easy to say that, but doing it, especially when you just started somewhere is super challenging and they mentioned it. I can understand, you don’t want to make people think that you think they’re stupid. You also might not be sure if you’re right! I mean if this more senior person said it, then I mean I probably just don’t understand it!

I think this goes back to framing and to framing questions compassionately. What I mean by that is, you can even change the phrasing of your question to make it so you’re not “questioning” what they wrote, but asking for more information.

I try to do this as much as possible when helping clients. If I don’t understand, or if I suspect they are wrong I won’t say “I think you’re wrong and this is why” but rather “Can you elaborate on what you mean by xyz? I’m not sure I follow the connection to abc. I was under the impression that xyz123 meant that abc456.” Asking for more information is always a good thing. And while in many circumstances you should stick to not saying what you’re thinking while asking a question (great read here about it) in cases like this I think it can be quite useful to move the conversation.

All that to say, don’t be afraid to ask questions, framing them as compassionate questions has helped me:
1) Have less anxiety about asking questions / questioning things of people I believe are smarter than myself.
2) Which in turn has helped me learn and grow!

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