I have a Question
Often when I am coaching people the subject of confidence comes up. In particular the lack of confidence to speak up in a meeting.
When we explore this further the person who is struggling to find a voice often feels less qualified than the others and therefore worry that they have nothing of value to add to the conversation. In response, I congratulate them for being reflective in action and for not talking for the sake of it. This either surprises them or they nod enthusiastically, acknowledging the frustration of being overshadowed by a dominant voice that really has no more to say than they do.
It feels that there is a common misconception that confidence is loud. To be able to remain quiet and say nothing may come from fear to speak but pausing to doubt your own ideas is something we should hang on to. It is what stops us saying ‘something stupid’. Knowing you don’t know something is a sign of intelligence. If you have been actively listening about a subject that you don’t have expertise in then it is likely that you will have a question.
Asking a good question not only helps you to understand more, it proves you are listening and thinking. It shows that you are confident enough to share what you don’t know in order to develop. Your question will also improve the thinking of others in the room because your question is the catalyst for them to re-think or explain and when we explain a thought aloud we understand it better, develop it or reject it for a better one.
So if you aren’t speaking up because you feel you aren’t the expert then focus on your listening. Instead of worrying about what you don’t know, ask a question that will help you to understand more. WARNING ‘Why are you always talking?’ is a question probably best avoided.