Why You Should Ask the Right Questions

I was driving home from the gym tonight, reflecting on my first two weeks as a working member of Corporate America. I’m working a Human Resources Internship and loving the experience! One thing I’ve noticed is that movies and TV shows that portray businesspeople and office workers as engrossed in their work aren’t exaggerating. These people have A LOT of tasks to cross off  and emails to write.

Because of the extremely busy schedules that my supervisors lead, I want to help them get as much done in as little time as possible with the highest quality as I can. That’s 3 strong birds to kill with one stone––i.e., not easy.

This is where asking the right questions comes in. Asking one solid question can free up lots of valuable time for everyone. For example:

Last week, my manager asked me to update a 20-or-so-page document. I delight in editing documents, improving what already exists, and contributing to my company. This project became my “fun side project.” When I wasn’t training or answering front desk phones, or performing daily duties, I worked on my side project. I didn’t think to ask my boss when she needed it completed. For me, the document was too much enjoyment to spend entire days working  on, especially when there were so many other important things to work on (I might be weird, but I’m sure there are some grammar and design enthusiasts who identify with me!).

What I didn’t realize was that she wanted it finished by today, the Friday of my second week of work and absolutely needs it completed by this Monday. I never stopped to ask what the project deadline was. For my manager, the document was much higher in priority than I assumed that it was.

Needless to say, I would have prioritized my time differently if I would have asked her one simple question: “What day and time would you like this completed by?” It’s a blessing to work for my manager because she is gracious and understanding. But you better believe I’ll get more information on my next projects!

Now it’s your turn. Have you encountered a situation like my side project confusion? What do you do to be sure you ask the right questions? Do you prefer figuring out situations on your own or inquiring of others? Comment below!


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