I had a journalism professor in college who once said: “If your parents say they love you, check it out.”
Not sure if he stole that quote from someone else, but I do know he meant we should question everything – and not just as journalism students, but as students of life. Here are some valuable lessons I’ve recently learned by asking questions and “checking it out.”
1. You might only think you know the answer. I got on a conference call a couple weeks ago convinced we had to address a specific integration in the technology portion of a presentation. It was in my notes somewhere that this was something the client needed, and nobody could convince me I was wrong… until we asked the client for clarification.
I WAS wrong, and thank goodness we “checked it out,” or my team would have looked like dang dinguses at the meeting, dedicating an entire agenda item to an integration nobody needed!
2. The other person doesn’t get it either – they’re just going with the flow. It’s an uncomfortable conversation when someone is really excited about a new opportunity until I start going through my list of questions that quickly reveal it’s not a good fit. Sometimes I downright dread those discussions, as I can never quite predict what the reaction will be on a spectrum of realistic agreement to defensive awkwardness.
But one day not long ago, I got the rarest reaction of them all: Relief.
“To be honest with you, I really didn’t want to go after this one. But I didn’t want to be negative or worry about missing out on something that could be good,” said the other person.
“I’m glad we’re being honest,” I replied. “Because I was hoping you wouldn’t want to go through with it anyway and expect me to come along for the ride. I hate being the buzzkill!”
There we were – just two people who REALLY didn’t want to do something, but playing along to avoid disappointing each other. Good thing those questions revealed the truth before either of us wasted anymore time!
3. You have no idea what’s out there! My coworker and I both enjoy eating Hormel® Compleats® for lunch. They’re convenient, inexpensive and some varieties are downright delicious. Until today I thought I had the market cornered on the best Compleats® and would offer my coworker advice (sometimes solicited, but often not).
This morning he encouraged me to visit the website and I was blown away by the choices! I had never heard of half of those Compleats®, and apparently he’s been staring down the beef tips meal on his last few trips to the store, but was hesitant to take a chance.
From there we both resolved to try all of the Compleats® and three important lessons were learned this day:
1. Check it out!
2. Ask questions!
3. Don’t just stare at and covet the beef tips. You’ve got to TRY the beef tips!