Thursday, December 13, 2007

don't be afraid to speak up

(i have been doing a lot of self reflection lately.)

one of the things that i keep on noticing is that some people are quiet, some people say things, and some people say interesting and thought provoking things. i notice that people that speak up, are more recognized for their thoughts. duh... the opposite is true, people that don't say anything aren't asked for their thoughts.

i think i speak up and i think i say interesting things. well, that is my goal. i don't care if i'm right or wrong. its the learning experience of being able to share my thoughts and being able to communicate it effectively that drives my out outspokenness.

the other day at work, a consultant pointed out that i ask a lot of very hard questions. that made me feel good; because that demonstrated my level of understanding and being able to push that understanding to new levels. after a little while of feeling good, i reflected...

i began to think about other people. i began to think about who (taking a cross section of all sorts of people that i know) also asks interesting and thought provoking questions. i began to categorize these people. i noticed some interesting things.

  • people that ask more of the interesting things are able to think outside of the box
  • people who don't really speak up, probably wouldn't be able to write their thoughts out either.
  • some people will dwell on what they know really good; asking sometimes inappropriately detailed and irrelevant questions.
  • people that ask good questions are able to draw their knowledge from varying sources; making connections that other people cannot.

    those are just some of my observations about other people. i speak up a lot of times, because i just want to know more about things. my bottom line is that i want to learn, and i want to be able to practice my communication skills, and my thought process. i get better at that sort of things every time i ask a question. every time i pose a question, i challenge myself to ask a thought provoking question. i challenge myself and i challenge the presenter, meeting group, or whoever the question is directed at to be my level of thought process.

    here is a big hint. asking good questions is one of the better ways to demonstrate that you can critically think about concepts. this is a very good thing to show off. :) especially in interviews, to your supervisors, and to anyone else that will notice.

    austen.ito said...

    Very interesting post. I think that critically thinking and asking intelligent questions is very important. The hard part is figuring out what those intelligent questions are. Also, if you aren't thinking about things in the right way, how do you change your way of thinking?

    I'm sure there are people who aren't born automatically think of things in new and different ways (myself included). But I do believe it to be an attainable skill. How to get there? *shrugs*

    I think that getting to the point where you ask a question and someone stops and says, "ahhh that's a very good question" is quite hard. You should write a blog on how you got there.

    austen.ito said...

    (checking box to get follow up comments)

    aaron said...

    (i received this from email)

    I thought your comments about speaking up was interesting.

    Normally people who speak up are confident about what they know.
    If someone does not know about the subject they will not add comments or ask questions
    especially in a meeting. They are clueless so their brain is blank.
    Most people will ask questions - one-on-one or in a smaller group.
    I guess most people do not want to look dumb or ask a dumb question.

    Of course, you do have a few that ask stupid questions.
    Oh but in your view, no questions are stupid :-).

    Also the environment matters. If it is an open setting, there will be more questions.
    Person is not intimidated to ask stupid questions :-)