40,000 questions in three years. Harvard child psychologist, Paul Harris, determined that children two to five years of age ask about 40K questions and once school starts, the decline begins. The Right Question Institute found that only about 25% of 18 year-olds use questioning on a regular basis. The need to look competent can further limit our questioning once we are engaged in the workforce. The esoteric language of most workplaces includes what feels like a million acronyms that are used in sentences in what sound like alphabet soup if transcribed. I have sat for briefs and not asked for the acronyms to be spelled out thinking I am the only one that was in the dark, only to be asked by someone else on the trip back to the office about the meaning of several acronyms. A similar occurrence has happened with an auditorium full of people when the speaker asks if a particular topic needs an explanation and a single brave soul asks for the explanation to the collective sigh of most of the participants.
What happened between five years old and now? Why did we fall off the questioning cliff? Over the last couple years, classmates do not appreciate my enthusiasm for a topic as I would ask the professor additional questions requiring additional discussion. Generally, I can feel the heat of the stares on my neck, wishing I would just shut-up with the questions. The professor would engage in conversation because there are generally only a few students that will ask questions. I have been known to ask one or two too many questions and frustrate my kids about evening plans, friends or plans for the future. By my count, I am sure it has only happened once.
Paul Sloane posits that asking questions is the single most important habit for innovative thinkers. Mr. Sloane quotes Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, as saying "we run this company on questions, not answers.” If our goal is to embrace the future or be innovative in our lives then asking questions need to be a part of our plan. So, what do you think?
Going Further: When did you ask lots of questions? If that has changed, why? How do you handle being asked multiple questions? What prevents you from asking more questions? What other questions should be asked?