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Vincent_Lloyd's avatar

Can you guys help me be able to ask questions?

Asked by Vincent_Lloyd (3007points) February 8th, 2011

Okay well this seems really stupid since I’m asking a question right now…But I mean I need help asking questions to teachers and to my sister or mom…I’m just shy to ask, plus when ever I ask I feel like an idiot when I do, makes me feel less…intelligent… I wish I could ask, I just never have the courage or self-esteem I guess…Can you please help me with this?

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18 Answers

jerv's avatar

I tend to power my way through my inherent shyness with a disregard for tact or self-preservation. Sometimes it’s because I figure that I will look like an idiot either way and have nothing to lose by asking, but more often is it just not caring what others think. In my case though, it’s less a matter of active lack of concern and more a matter of just being genuinely oblivious to that sort of thing much of the time. (Aspergers has it’s upsides.)

I am not courageous; courage is acknowledging danger and overcoming your fear of it. But what danger is there in asking a question? Often, it’s more dangerous to not know the answer you seek. There are times where I have a brain fart at work, forget something I know I know but can’t recall, and say to my boss, “I have a stupid question…”. Trust me, that hurts less than having a $100,000 machine shoot sharp pieces of metal around the room as it self-destructs (a possible consequence of not asking a “stupid” question).

Remember, we all do and say stupid things. As long as you learn something from them though, you are not actually stupid, and thus have no reason to feel stupid.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I mastered my shyness by pretending I wasn’t shy.

Then one day I wasn’t.

Judi's avatar

The secret is realizing that usually, there are others with the same question as well, and are also afraid to ask for fear of looking stupid.
It was almost like an epiphany for me. Once I realized that the lack of knowledge in itself was not stupid, and realized that not seeking information was stupider (is that a word?) than not having it, I refused to be intimidated when I had to ask for information.
Go ahead and ask. Especially in group situations. In most cases there will be others around you with the exact same questions.
I should add that the culture of your family may make this harder there. It is sometimes harder for families to acknowledge changes in family members than it is for others.

SABOTEUR's avatar

One other thing to consider is there’s always someone around who’ll find fault with what you do or say.

It’s unavoidable.

Stop worrying about what other people think.
(Chances are they wish they were more like you!)

Sunny2's avatar

Find words to ask for permission to ask a question rather than just blurting out the question. For example: “May I ask you a question?” “I could use some advice. . .” “Could you help me with a problem?”“Do you know anything about…? In fact, you can get a lot of ideas how to begin asking by reading questions here on Fluther.
Choose your time well, not when the other person is obviously thinking about something else; not when they are running out the door or on the phone.

Remember most teachers want to help. You might begin with, “I’ve got a problem.” Your mom will also want to help, in fact, you can tell her you feel shy about asking questions. If your sister seems to be the nice instead of the teasing kind of sister, she’ll also be glad to talk with you. If she’s impatient with you, don’‘t ask her; she’ll just make you feel worse.

Believe it or not, you are not expected to know all the answers. Look at Fluther again. People ask all kinds of stuff. You can practice asking us before asking real people. We won’t bite or tease. You’ll probably get more answers than you can imagine. The question you wrote above wasn’t too hard was it? Ask some more!

El_Cadejo's avatar

I couldnt agree more with what Judi said. The only thing that will make you less intelligent is not asking the question.

kess's avatar

Lay all your cards on th table and say this….

this may sound like a stupid question but….......

MacBean's avatar

My dad told me something when I was little that made me stop being ashamed to ask questions. He said, essentially, if you keep your mouth shut for fear of looking unintelligent, then you are, because you still don’t know the answer to what you were wondering.

BarnacleBill's avatar

In Montessori, the approach is to ask questions as a request. Example: “I would like to know how to work this equation. I think I need a better understanding of factoring.”

It’s a subtle difference, but takes out that sense of feeling like you’re the only one that doesn’t get something. By making a request for information, you retain empowerment.

Cruiser's avatar

Think of this old axiom…there really are no stupid questions just stoopid answers. Just think it through before you ask and if you are ever shot down for asking your questio, find someone else with more compassion who will listen and answer your questions.

gailcalled's avatar

Give us some examples, if you don’t mind. I would have never labeled any of my childrens’ questions as “stupid.”

WasCy's avatar

One way to look at this (and a way that experienced teachers do look at it) is if your question is truly elementary, then everything in the lesson after that point has been lost – and probably not just to you, but to several (maybe even “most”) others in the class. So ask your elementary question as soon as you have it, or risk wasting a lot of time.

Teachers tend to get annoyed when the really elementary questions are held onto for too long, indicating that a lot of time has been wasted, and needs to be made up. Ask early and often.

wundayatta's avatar

My general feeling is that teachers are in my employ, so I get to use them the way I want. If I want to ask a question, I ask a question. However, if I am not paying the teacher, then I do not feel so free to ask. Still, some teachers have gone out of their way to say they appreciate my questions.

Now, of course I’m not immune to the fear of looking stupid. I don’t want to ask a question that everyone else already knows the answer to. But if you’ve been doing the reading and studying, that shouldn’t be a problem.

On the other hand, if you haven’t been doing the work… I kinda think you shouldn’t ask, even if you are lost. If you force the teacher to talk about things that others know because they did the work and you didn’t, I don’t think that’s fair to the other students.

carsonsmom1's avatar

For me, the best way to learn is asking questions. I used to be shy as well, until i realized how much i was gaining, and now I’m the one person you see constantly having her hand up in class. Being the first one to talk, or sometimes even to talk at all takes courage. Take little steps like see the teacher when know body is around and then ask. This will help you feel more comfortable with the teacher and will probably give you more confidence to ask a questions since you know at least one person will support you instead of shut you down. When you’re ready you will learn when to stand up for yourself and not care of what everyone else’s opinions are around you. In all reality, they most likely have the same exact question you do. :) Good luck!

Kardamom's avatar

If you need to ask your mom or your sister a question (probably about something that has been bugging you for awhile) write down the questions ahead of time and then say something like this:

“I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I was wondering if you had a little time where we could talk about XY and Z.”

“This is a little embarassing, but could you spare a little time to explain XY and Z to me?”

“I know you might think this is a little weird, but I’m just not sure what to do about XY and Z. Do you think you could explain it to me a little better?

“Hi Mom, I’ve been thinking about something for awhile that’s been bothering me. I don’t want to get you upset or mad or anything, but I was wondering if we could talk about XY and Z and maybe try to figure out a better way to do it. I’ve really been worrying about it a lot and I think we need to make some changes, maybe I need to make some changes. Do you have a little time to talk about it?”

Now for the teachers:

“Sorry to interrupt, but I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of XY and Z. Could you put that into a little bit more basic of an explanation?”

“I think I’m still a little unclear about how X and Y effect Z. Could you go over it again?”

“I’m afraid I’m a little unfamiliar with XY and Z. Is there something that you could recommend to me to read to get a little more up to speed on this subject?

“I’m sorry. I’m listening to what you have said about XY and Z, but I’m afraid I’m just not quite understanding it. Could you go over it again?”

Then if you have to go to a teacher or counselor in private (like after class or to their office):

“I’m really having a hard time understanding XY and Z. That subject has always been really hard for me. Do you have any suggestions on how I could figure it out a little easier? Do you have some time where maybe we could sit down and discuss XY and Z a little more?”

“I’m somewhat embarrassed to be asking this, because it appears that everyone else seems to understand XY and Z. I know a little bit about it, but I think I am missing some of the basic information about XY and Z and was wondering if you’d be able to work with me to help fill in some of the blanks?”

“Do you think I should get a tutor to help me with XY and Z? I feel like I’m not getting it as quickly as the others. Where could I find a tutor to help me with this subject?”

“I’ve been noticing that there are some things going on at my house that just don’t seem right, but I don’t want to get anyone in trouble. There’s been a little bit of XY and Z happening at my house when my mom isn’t home. I’m not sure if she even knows about it. Do you have any suggestions on how I could deal with this situation?”

Ladymia69's avatar

@Vincent_Lloyd Why do you think you are shy?

BarnacleBill's avatar

Here’s an example of the Ultimate Stupid Question: I am on a ladder, touching up the the trim of my house. My neighbor came into my yard, watched me for a few minutes, and then asked, “What are you doing?” I replied that I was painting the trim on the house. He then asked, “Why?” I pointed to another section of the trim and said “It needs it.” “Oh,” he said.

Unless you’re asking that type of question, you are not asking a stupid question.

Kardamom's avatar

@BarnacleBill That whole scenario reminded me of a bit that the comedian Bill Engvall does called “Here’s Your Sign.” An example: Bill Engvall was packing his truck with rods and reels and fish baskets and a cooler and his neighbor asked, “Going Fishing?” Bill would say no and then give some outrageous description of what he was really doing. He would then hand the neighbor a sign that says I’m an Idiot. So at the end of these bits, he always say, “Here’s your sign!”

In the case of the OP, though, in school and at home there really aren’t any stupid questions. The only way you can get information is to ask questions. He could practice with his friends by simply asking regular run of the mill questions like, “Could you describe how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in detail?” until he gets totally comfortable just asking questions. He could do this everyday for a week, and then try asking a few questions in class, in the counselors office and to his Mom and sister.

He could take my list of example questions and write them down and literally read them from the list if that makes it easier. Of course he would have to fill in the XY and Z with the actual information that he needs to know. Sometimes having it written down makes it easier, so you don’t lose your train of thought mid question.

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