I've received more than a handful of advice at work, but one day one of my mentors encouraged me to stop making statements and asks more questions. Since I'm usually the youngest and least experienced in the room I would sit in meetings, give my opinion if needed, and leave to do my work. There have been countless times where I will sit in a meeting and listen to someone explain why we should do something a certain way and its the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. Since I'm usually the least experienced I don't question it or I'll make a general statement with another idea. After receiving the advice to ask more questions I did just that. Question after question I started to understand how people really think and the actual level of intelligence I'm dealing with. Being young in a very old corporate company and be very intimidating, I mean, these people have to know what they're doing right? They've been with the company 25 years right? What could I possibly tell them that they don't know? WRONG! I spent the first year in my first super corporate job underestimating myself and not realizing my full potential. I assumed that I wasn’t the smartest person in the room at any given moment. It wasn’t until I started asking questions that I realized that was FAR from the truth. Now, don’t assume that when you start asking questions you’ll reveal a ton of stupid people (you will discover some) but you’ll discover a few things, here are a couple of things I started to notice.
Sometimes it’s hard to know someone’s true perspective by hearing him or her make a statement compared to an explanation. For instance someone in a meeting could say “I think we should build an attraction about honey” and my initial thought would be “THAT'S THE DUMBEST SHIT I’VE EVER HEARD” but if that statement is made and I ask why I may be introduced to a new perspective and way of thinking that I didn’t initially think about. Now you may think, why would someone make a statement like that and not have an immediate explanation? That leads to my second point.
People Love to hear themselves talk
People who loves to hear themselves talk will literally say anything that sounds good and people who have a high status in a corporate environment will say anything if they know it's slim to none chance someone will question them about it. Now, don’t go around questioning executives because people tend to frown upon that. This column is called corporate thuggin for a reason; you need lots of precision and class when questioning coworkers (unorthodox right?). When you get ready to ask questions think about what you really want to know and keep in mind that if you’re dealing with people who love to hear themselves talk, you may be hearing a lot of fluff and no substance (not all the time but it happens).
words mean things (cc: the read)
UGH the person in the conference room who uses all the new futuristic terms and you need a dictionary to keep up (and the words usually mean nothing). I’ve been in meetings where I have NO clue what the person is talking about; you can tell they took a 101 class in business lingo (not even sure if that exist). Now, for the longest I assumed that I was the only one in the dark until other coworkers would leave the meeting with the same feeling. Asking a simple question like “What does that mean in plainest terms” really helped the situation. Trust me, you’re not the only one in the dark, and 9 times out of 10 the person speaking doesn't realize no one knows what he/she is speaking about.
Social Behavior Cues
After I started asking questions I realized that sometimes people don’t listen while you’re talking to them and usually when they don’t listen they’re saying things like “Un huh” “yeah” “totally” while nodding their head really fast. This usually means they’re thinking about what they will say when you’re done instead of really digesting what you’re saying and they’re using the “yeah, totally” to make you think they’re listening (trust me, I’ve done it.) I’m still figuring out what to do when this is happening, I’ll let you know when I find out or let me know if you already know.