Are there really no “silly” questions to ask?
Should we really not be afraid to ask “silly” questions?
Probably, but there are certainly wrong times to ask them, in my opinion, as well as the wrong person to ask them to.
Asking them in the context of education is fine, in classes, seminars, training sessions etc. When it comes to work situations, I think certain personal censoring should be in place.
Don’t ask “silly” questions to the person you are trying to sell your product to. That will just make you look unprofessional and confirm the impression that you don’t know what you are talking about.
Don’t ask “silly” questions to the person who is considering hiring you for your expertise. Don’t confirm for them that you really have none.
Don’t ask “silly’ questions to the consultant you have just hired, or the vendor whose product you are considering buying. You are just asking to be charged a fortune for unnecessary stuff once they find out from your questions that you know nothing about what you need.
Don’t ask “silly” questions of the subordinate whom you already sense does not respect your authority. The same for bosses who are already looking askance at your performance.
Don’t ask “silly” questions in a meeting right in front of your work enemies who are standing by, ready and willing to bring you down about a thousand and one pegs for “not knowing that basic fact”.
I am sometimes very grateful for the fact that I am such an introvert and that I don’t like to talk much. I have my own problems when it comes to front line socializing, of course, but I have also seen more than one colleague’s career ground to a halt due to being too loquacious and having this idea that that there is nothing wrong with asking “silly” questions to just about anyone at just about any time.
Although, in this age of Google Search, I don’t think there should be that many silly questions to ask anyway.