I’m one of those people that really likes to know. If I don’t know I ask. I don’t care if I look stupid for not knowing. Not now I don’t. I learned this from Kelly, my college roommate, who had a knack for always asking questions about everything. I remember worrying that she was asking a stupid question while I was trying to act cool with some random guys at a bar pretending I knew. Really I was just as interested in hearing the answer because I had no clue but was too scared to ask. Kelly is brilliant, confident and I knew she wasn’t stupid. I learned from her that it was the smart people that asked all the questions. The smart people risk sounding stupid in an attempt to satiate their hungry mind. If you love learning, if you are a curious person then you get comfortable with that uncomfortable feeling that you might be asking a ‘stupid’ question. Really, everyone else wants to know too.
Sometimes it is simply the moment right before you ask when you feel uncomfortable but once it is out of your mouth and hanging in the air you can quickly feel a sense of OK, that wasn’t so bad. I practice this and now it doesn’t feel as uncomfortable as it did. I’m sure it helps that I am uber confident in many other areas in my life and I know I’m smart and competent so when I don’t know something I’m not shy about it or embarrassed. When I hear people talking about getting out of their comfort zone I think of this moment when it would be easier to pretend I know something or a particular word or a person and I could easily move through that moment without asking but I choose to ask anyway. I like the challenge of getting out of my comfort zone. And when I don’t feel up for the challenge I just remind myself that being like everyone else is not the bold, one the edge person that I aspire to be.
The Art of Listening
Learning to really listen well is easier for curious people. If the person I’m in conversation with starts to get off topic or too technical then I stop them and say, ‘Wait, what??’ In all honesty, it is possible that I got distracted by the ridiculously cute skirt the lady that just walked by was wearing. “Wait, what?” When I ask good questions (or even stupid questions), I stay connected to the person and if I still have no clue what they are talking about I ask more questions until I get it. I love being able to relate on some level with whatever it is that people are talking about. So I ask them to explain more, I really want to get it. It is one of my favorite opportunities to be a good listener and to learn something new.
It’s All Connected
I am big into the Universe working for me all the time. I’ve noticed that when I meet someone new and we get into a conversation about something that I’m not familiar with and I find myself asking all sorts of questions and learning, it is because that information is necessary for something else going on. Meeting a computer tech guy and learning all about what he does and then two days later a co-worker’s computer crashes and I know just the right person. You know those moments when you say, “Oh my gosh, I was just talking to so and so about xyz!” or “I just heard a story on the radio about that.” or “My friend just gave me a book about that.” When I’m listening, learning, asking questions and engaged it all comes together somehow, for some reason.