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Is your attitude subtly toxic?

[L]ack of doubt and overconfidence are toxic to your career. A curious mind, on the other hand, is invaluable in business and a healthy sense of doubt is one of the most important characteristics of effective people. People in power know that learning and growth starts with questions. We pay attention to the questions you ask in job interviews and meetings.

Questions like these really matter and change people’s lives (from big to small):

What should I do with my life? Is this job a good fit for me? Where am I going in my job this year? How valuable is my work to the company? What will I accomplish this quarter? Am I getting enough feedback and guidance from my boss? Am I on track this month? How does this work? Why? How could I improve this? What can I learn from this? Am I prepared for my conference call this afternoon?

a curious mind is invaluable in businessHow do I know when a new member of the team is unlikely to work out? It’s usually someone who asks few questions during training, then sits down to work and charges ahead with full confidence (usually doing the wrong thing) without checking in for feedback until I request an update.

Some people are naturally more curious than others — but forget about that because you can create your own healthy sense of doubt with practice. Our minds generally do what we ask them to – ask and ye shall receive.

So use this checklist:

  1. Hang a list of daily questions for yourself in your bedroom and/or your office.
  2. Put questions in locations that will remind you at the right time in the right place. I keep a card on my monitor that says “Prepared? Specific enough? Documented?” No, it doesn’t always work, but I’m still a little better with the reminder than without.
  3. Ask yourself “What am I missing? What other possibilities are there? What consequences might flow from this? Consider a longer list of options and try to include some wacky ones. Get outside your comfort zone for a moment.
  4. Spill your guts. When you’re tempted to ask something but feel inhibited or fearful about asking, pay close attention – it’s usually a question that needs asking. Just ask. You’ll find the cost of not asking is almost always higher.

Get the ebook! If you liked what you read here, and think you may want to refer back to this guide later, grab the Kindle version – we’re hoping you’ll thank us with a five-star review on Amazon if you found this material helpful. The ebook also includes our job search guide.

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42 comments

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  • Awesome article! Reason being that it translates to all other spectrums of life: education, work, or life-wise. Currently a college-kid enrolled at the University of Texas at San Antonio, I often find myself wondering about the direction I’m taking on this crazy, winding road in my life adventure. Asking the right questions directs me out of potholes and other obstructions. This article only reinforces my confidence that my life will bear great fruits with the necessary preparation. 

    I appreciate the time taken to formulate these tips, because personally speaking, it has already helped. Thanks. 

  • I believe this is a very important lesson in life. I try to ask as many questions on a daily basis, especially when it comes to intellectual conversations. When I was in high school, I worked as an intern at UCSB’s Marine Science Institute, where I did graduate-level research. The professor of the lab was my mentor, and whenever he gave me directions on how to work with the lab’s chemicals, I would always ask questions. Even though he is a well-known professor, I tried to hold my own by asking questions. It was not necessarily doubt, but rather curiosity and to make sure I completed my tasks correctly. The sense of doubt worked in my favor because there was one time when he told me to pour five grams of chemical into my solution, but I remembered reading that the solution need ten grams. I showed him my source of information, and he later saw that it was true.

  • Amazing article! As I read this article it quickly reminded me
    of myself. I work at Village Inn (a restaurant) and have been there for a year
    and three months. For the first few months I would always toss the questions I
    had back and forth; thinking I would look and sound naive if I asked certain
    questions. After about five months I began to ask plenty questions many would say
    I wanted to know everything that was going on. My response was “Exactly! You
    have to know everything so you can be an outstanding employee. ” By the grace
    of God I learned everything about the restaurant including every position. As
    of now I am next in line for management, all thanks to my hunger for knowledge.
    To be honest as I finished my first semester of going to school, work, and
    church I let my doubt take over. I have had an abundance of question that I
    never asked because I was afraid to “Spill my guts out”. However reading this article
    has motivated me not only to ask these questions but make those questions and
    answers into actions.

  • It is very important to be curious and to not be overly confident about everything that you do. In questioning yourself, your job, your life, and many other things, you can learn a lot about yourself and how to be successful and do things right. If you are overconfident, you can’t learn from mistakes, be as reasonable, or make the necessary changes in your life, jobs or relationships. No one is perfect and everyone has room to grow and change, so you have to be able to question yourself and peole around you.

  • Beginning my first real job as an admissions calling assistant asking questions was very important. I made sure to ask as many questions as possible so that I knew I was doing the best job possible. When I made a mistake or was not sure about a certain section of the work I was doing I would get in touch with my boss right away and double check. Asking questions is very important so that the work can get done quicker and the correct way. 

  • This is an important article for my
    own personal development because I have a history of too much self-doubt. A
    certain amount of self-doubt is essential to maintaining a good balance in my
    professional and educational endeavors. Too much self-doubt will result in over
    thinking projects and assignments. An effective employees and students need to
    have a balance of self-doubt and self-confidence in order to be successful in
    life. The list of suggestions provided by this article is helpful for people
    who lack self-doubt. However, I worry that a person, who may have too much self-doubt,
    these steps may make things worse. For example, point number 4; Spill your
    guts. I am notorious for spilling my guts too often. I feel that this is from a
    lack of confidence.

  • I enjoyed reading this article. With the competitive workforce that I will be entering, having healthy doubt allows for a person to reason, apply critical thinking skills to all situations, and allows for broader thinking. I think employers want to see an assertive employee however, they also appreciate one that is humble and prepared, as well as able to take criticism and bounce back with solutions. Having healthy self doubt balances out ones over self confidence and complements negative self doubt, creating a better employee. 

  • This article is amazingly accurate and helpful. I can actually see this principles taking place throughout my work experience!
    I am currently a personal assistant for the owner of a small but very successful business. However, it is interesting to note that I started out as a tutor for the family and then a baby sitter and then an errand runner and now, here I am, a personal assistant. When I look back at what helped me make these advancements and also what may have prohibited some advancements I can see the above topic coming into play.
    When an individual first begins working a new job it is easy to see why they would be intimidated to ask questions, especially ones that are seemingly obvious or simple. However, I have learned that, as the article said, when you are tempted to ask something it usually needs asked. When it comes to working hard and doing your best any direction helps. So, whether it’s a simple question or an awkward question it’s usually best to go ahead and ask – plus it will save you the stress of having to wing it and hope you guessed correctly.
    This article gave me some great insight from an employers perspective. I also learned some great tips that will not only help me be a more attentive and thorough employee but also a more efficient manifest-er!

  • While overconfidence can make you seem cocky, often times, it’s a lack of confidence that will leave you without a job. Employers want to be able to trust their employees, and how can they do that if the employee doesn’t trust his or her own instincts? You should always trust yourself before taking on a big task! 

    However, employers often like an employee who will ask questions and make sure that the job is done correctly. Believe in yourself and have a full understanding for what you’re doing, and you will go far in life!

  • I can certainly understand how questioning can be important in the work place. I work in a library, and often there are days when I work on projects without supervision. That’s why whenever I start a new project I speak up. I make sure to ask the person teaching me a new skill to double check all of the steps of the process  to make sure I’m working correctly. It saves everyone a lot of time and effort to do things right from the beginning!

    I have also dealt with people who have had this subtly toxic attitude, someone who wound up going straight to work without a clear idea of the project. I usually wound up spending the first part of my shift cleaning up his mistakes! Once we had a serious discussion and I helped him with some questions, his work improved dramatically. It’s all really about communication- we can’t have a smoothly running workplace if one person is confused and won’t ask for help.

  • I have seen many new employees tell the veterens employees “I KNOWWW thatttt, you don’t have to tell me”  these are the ones that are gone in a matter of a couple of weeks.

  • I ask a lot of questions at work and it seems to annoy management. I believe that if you don’t ask you will never know

  • I ask a lot of questions of myself and others, and it doesn’t seem to help. I think it intimidates people when I ask the difficult questions

  • I find that asking questions is the best possible way to understand the job even more. No matter how awkward or silly the question may sound, it gives the individual something to remember, then just to go about their job. For me, when I had started new jobs I asked many questions, even if I already knew the answers, I still asked just for the clarification. There are some that think they do not need to ask a question and those are the one who tend to mess things up or do something wrong. If you are not asking questions you are not really learning, and with questions you keep the communication factor alive, as well too. I have had to train some people in previous jobs and they would never ask a question and just do what they felt was right until it was time to check on them, and things were all messed up and wrong. I had asked them “well why did you not ask me?” And the replies were “I thought I knew what I was doing” or to some degree like that. I had learned that asking questions is not a bad idea, when I had done exactly what the trainees had done “I thought I knew how to do this.” So I can understand and agree with this article very much so, and will use it for the next person I have to train, and for my own personal well-being.

  • I enjoyed this article. I believe questions clarify information and help a person to understand the task. It’s important to remember you don’t know everything.

  • I have found asking questions to be the best thing in life. From a young age, I would ask my mother everything that came to mind and if she didn’t know the answer, she would say “look it up.” So, I did! I looked it all up! Now I am just a sponge of weird information and people come to me for answers to strange questions. I have spent a great deal of time building myself a “name” and a network in just this way, because you can never know all the answers! I always ask more questions and I find this is a perfect way to engage on social network sites. Not only does it show that you are listening and interested, but it shows your level of knowledge and commitment to the topic and the people. 🙂

  • This article is very insightful and helpful because it posses an interesting topic: asking questions and how to ask them. I have always been shy and I am not the one to start a conversation, but if I get curious about something or someone questions start to flow out of my mouth. Curiosity is an important quality any person can have and it is important to nurture it. Asking questions is the easiest way to sate that curiosity, but it is equally important to be careful what kinds of questions are permissible. In the workplace it is vital to keep private questions out, unless the relationship with the other person is very close. Asking questions about the job, how to perform tasks, ask for suggestions, and so on is essential to learn to do the job well and accurately. There is a saying I like and it goes “there are no stupid questions”. Most of our questions have answers and the more questions answered the more knowledgeable a person becomes.

  • Is your attitude subtly toxic? offers some very helpful suggestions. My boss is extremely busy and so his time is very valuable. I have learned to take a pen and paper into his office with questions prepared in advance so that we are able to discuss the topics that really matter before his next meeting or interruption. As an employee, being able to ask, “What am I missing”, or “What consequences might flow from this?” is particularly useful given that all of the correspondence I write for his signature, or simple emails can be accessed through public records requests. Taking time to re-read and think about the checklist mentioned in this article will save much heartburn and even embarrasement. My job as an employee, is to make my bosses job easier. It is best to never assume that you know what your boss is, or is not thinking. Like point number 4, when in doubt….. always ask.

  • While working at a daycare is often telling kids what to do or what not to do, it is also learning from them what we could work on in ourselves as well. For example, when a child is continuously misbehaving or not listening, instead of getting angry, I sometimes have to approach them in a different light. This child obviously needs the extra love and attention so I try to change my attitude about handling the situation, which is usually through anger or frustration. Instead I try to facilitate their extra energy into something useful such as helping me out with a project or completing a special task. This has the child respond to me in a, wanting to help the teacher, type of attitude. I notice that when my attitude changes, so does the childs’. A child usually mirrors my attitudes and behaviors. This is a great example in all aspects of the workforce. Usually we come face to face with our own attitude problem in the workplace when we are refusing to grow and learn as an individual from our mistakes. When I first started working I constantly had to ask questions of my training buddy on what to do in certain situational encounters with the kids. By asking these questions early on I was more easily able to meet these new situations head on by myself. Learning any kind of training requires a basic knowledge of the training itself before trying to apply it firsthand.

  • Asking questions is inherently related to “the courage of stupidity”, a concept I learn in a Group Dynamics course. Often, our own fear of looking dumb inhibits our ability to understand the task or material that has been presented to us. It takes a certain integrity and bravery to speak up and express that there are things that we still have to learn.

    I was once in a class in which all members were discussing stereotyping and racism. I was confused about how we were defining some of the terms being used, but knowing that racism is such an emotionally charged topic, I was fearful to speak up, worrying that my classmates would judge me as ignorant if I did. However, I finally managed to gain the backbone to voice my confusion; the members of my class listened and then patiently explained their stance to me, deepening my appreciation of the topic at hand as well as my peers’ perspectives on it and experiences of it. I owe this profound social learning experience to the courage to look foolish.

    I am appreciative of the insight I gained from this article, that the same bravery needed to ask these kinds of questions is also the key to success in the workplace.

  • I absolutely love this topic. It perfectly outlines how to do what I had trouble with for awhile when I first started working. I didn’t want to get in the way of my bosses and end up being more of a nuisance than I was a valuable team member. I learned the hard way through repeated mistakes.

    Now I now that asking questions is not only a good thing, it’s imperative. As the article says, ” …the cost of not asking questions is almost always higher.” Contrary to most peoples’ beliefs, your boss would much rather take a bombardment of questions than have to clean up after you at the end of a long day. If all your questions are answered and you clearly understand the tasks you have been set forth to do, your success rate will be much higher and you will be noticed for it.

    Asking questions to an authority figure takes some guts for most people. With that being said, doing so will prove to your boss(es) that are mature and confident and actually give a hoot about getting the job done right! Nothing makes you stand out more than completing your tasks in such a way that your boss thinks you actually care about the company and where it goes.

    You can be that employee just by asking a few questions when you don’t understand. This guide is an excellent tool to help you start doing that.

  • This is one of my greater weaknesses. Although I have been relatively successful in my work experience, I always have more questions than I believe are appropriate for the situation of being shown what to do. I have often felt that firing the barrage of questions from my mind will be insulting to the ability of the trainer to train effectively. Yet after a few weeks of asking my questions when they come to mind, rather than when I am confronted with a related issue, I see that my previous introverted state of mind was an inverted view of authority. Strangely enough, it is allowing me to relate to my superiors more effectively. If I can continue on this path, I believe I may get a pay raise sometime in the near future. Thank you, Eric.

  • This article hits a very important part of an interview or job training. It is imperative to ask questions, not only to learn more about what you are doing, but it also helps to prove that you are listening. I usually try to think about what I want to know before I go in for the interview, and then I try to come up with a good question. This is something that I have struggled with in the past. Asking questions and asking for feedback are very important.

  • When it comes to having to keep a job to pay for bills, changing your attitude is worth while. I know for me, it always seemed that I have had an attitude even though I didn’t even care about the task at hand. However, a way that I am handling my personality towards is by changing my interests. Now, l listen to nonexplicit music and read a quote about how to have a good life.

  • Trying to find a way to be helpful is a positive way to stay connected in the workplace. It is easy to ask some questions, be a good listener and see if there is a place you can get involved in your new job.

  • I always will ask my boss/employer questions because I feel that it lets them know that you are critically thinking

    about things and that you’re not just a drone who continues to work without any thoughts or emotions. Along

    with asking questions, its equally important to be a great listener. If you are able to successfully incorporate

    those two into your life then you will have a wonderful communicative relationship with you company.

  • I’ve found that a curious attitude is particularly helpful in job interviews; if I have questions about the job that show I’m thinking about the responsibilities and problems associated with it, I find that I’m more likely to get a job. The interviewer seems more confident in a potential employee who asks questions.

  • I have noticed in myself that I do have a “toxic” attitude. I tend to get frustrated quickly when dealing with people and it makes me cranky or rude. I also have a hard time standing up for myself and being firm in my thoughts in he workplace. This article helped me see ways to deal with that.

  • This topic really hits home for me. I am a paralegal working in the law office setting for the past five years. When I first began working in a law firm, I always assumed that I would be bothering or annoying the attorneys if I asked them questions. My usual course of action was to just attempt to complete the assignment and assume the attorney would later tell me if I should have done it differently. I quickly learned this was not the best approach. I found that my generally it is better to ask and do it correctly the first time. Otherwise you are just creating more work for both you and your attorney, which is a sure way to actually annoy them!

    I have found that asking questions shows your boss your true level of interest in both the field you work in and your particular job. Asking questions can also give you chance to learn more from your boss about areas you didn’t even know you had questions about. In my experience you often don’t even realize there is a more efficient or better way to do things unless you ask questions of your supervisors and co-workers. It is important to find that balance in your individual work place, know what questions are important to ask, know when is the best time to approach your boss, know how to clearly and concisely communicate your questions, and don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions!

  • I have found this to be extremely true. After working at our company for nearly three years, I got a promotion that put me in charge of the entire branding department, managing people instead of creating the content myself. I was overly confident in myself and the ways I had produced this work in the past, so I did not trust anyone else to do things correctly. I was hesitant to delegate or share broader strategic goals. This kind of toxic thinking led to two major problems. The products suffered, because I was not allowing my smart and capable co-workers to work freely. Additionally, our ability to collaborate and work as a team suffered, because by withholding my larger strategic concepts from my team, I made them feel undervalued and as if I did not respect their ideas.

    I solved this by spreading my confidence around – removing a lot from myself and placing it on my team. I had to remember that my co-workers are more than capable, and to do their best work I had to give them the room to make mistakes and take chances. Additionally, I had to remember that my confidence in myself was not always a good thing. I had made plenty of mistakes in the past and not always produced perfect work. In the end, by delegating and opening up more lines of communication, our collaboration improved, and so did the work we produced.

  • I am a perfectionist and loath redundancy and making mistakes. I often find myself asking as many questions as possible while working in school or at my job. I always like to take a moment of time to ensure that I have a clear and concise idea of what I am supposed to be doing. I enjoy evaluating the work that I do to be sure that I am solving problems or performing a task in the best possible manner. I enjoy working with others who also share these qualities and have accomplished much through teamwork.

  • I haven’t been employed in a permanent or full-time position quite, but from my years of work experience I can agree that a toxic attitude can make or break your work performance. It is important to make sure your attitude doesn’t reflect on your work. Becoming employed in a part-time highschool job can make this a difficult feat to accomplish, but just a slight shift in your attitude can change everything.

    I’ve worked five years in a shift managing retail position, a job that is very stressful and sometimes hard to want to remain there. However, I will disagree with the comment made on knowing when a new member won’t work out. I go in with confidence and learn by observing, so questions are out of my character. I watch my trainer and learn that way, and when something doesn’t make sense then I ask. Though I do understand the importance in asking if overconfidence is a relentless problem in your job history.

    When questions are asked, though, it can demonstrate a willingness to learn and an interest in your job. It’s good to ask for feedback when you aren’t entirely sure with your performance. Constructive criticism can help guide you into being a more successful employee.

  • I have worked multiple part time jobs in my time at school, however the majority of my time has been spent in daycare settings. I can definitely tell when someone with a toxic attitude has been in the classroom I am working in that day. The attitude spreads from person to person and intensifies. Before you know it the work environment is toxic. All it takes is one person to turn that attitude the other direction and make the day great! I strive everyday to be that person and make my workplace more enjoyable for everyone.

  • I have a nasty habit of being a couch potato, as such when it comes time to head to my shift I’m usually not the happiest camper. Yet I always try to go in with a positive attitude, if I am there I might as well try to get the most out of it. I find this makes a huge difference; not only do I have fun but my productivity increases as well as the productivity of my co-workers. A toxic environment leads to vastly unproductive environments and can make the time terrible for everyone. I prefer to have fun so time can fly by.

  • I started working with a friend of mine in a new department. The two of us were constantly asking each other during our lunch break about our boss – what he thought of us, how to interpret his questions, what was expected of us and whether we were meeting those expectations.

    I tend to be shy and unsure about myself. I know it’s important to promote yourself in a work environment and to have confidence in your abilities, but I didn’t want to overdo it or make myself seem manufactured. If I didn’t know how to do something, I had to choose between pretending to understand and failing, or admitting I didn’t know how to do it and risk looking underqualified for the job. I constantly struggled with this internal battle, and would sometimes end up spending hours on Google searching for answers instead of just asking someone for help to a simple problem.

    Luckily, I’ve since developed a great relationship with my boss and have come to a major realization. Your boss knows when you aren’t asking questions. He learns about you over time, and if you don’t come to him (frequently) when you start something new, he doesn’t assume that you’re a genius and already know everything; he assumes you’re too proud to ask for help and to admit you have trouble.

    If I ask my boss a simple question every single time I can’t figure something out on my own (after a quick Google search or instant messaging a co-worker), my questions show that I am eager to learn, open to correction, unafraid to speak up, and efficient. I was even offered a promotion for this once. He said he could tell how competent I was because I asked the right questions.

  • I am a freelance musician. My many bosses include restaurant owners and
    bartenders who hire me to attract customers. Last summer, I began leading a band called Groove Atlas in alocal restaurant called Talayna’s. I focused my energy on rehearsing and preparing the music and making sure the performances would go smoothly. Even though we were being paid to perform, I thought little of the actual value we provided to the store. Toxic attitude – I learned.

    Musicians havefollowers. Restaurant owners hire musicians in order to attract the followers to the restaurant. Bands need a good marketing strategy. I believed that word of mouth would be enough to attract customers and sustain work. I was wrong. After a few slow weekends at
    the restaurant, the owner began frequently asking me to bring in more people

    In the fall, I started following a band called Crystal Lady. They used Facebook to advertise their performances and they brought huge crowds everywhere they went. I realized that I
    needed to change before I could have any kind of success like theirs. Following the example of Crystal Lady, I rebuilt my marketing strategy from the ground up.

    I brainstormed all the actions I could take to attract more people to perform. First, I hired more skilled musicians, so we could rehearse less and have more time to promote shows. I remembered that whenever I attended a performance, I almost always knew the artist already. I named my group, “The Nathan Rauscher Jazz Band,” to take advantage of name recognition. I started a Facebook page where I advertised performances to all of my friends. I even talked my parents into helping spread the word

    On the very next gig, the difference was night and day. At most, twenty people would come to see Groove Atlas, but fifty customers came to see The Nathan Rauscher Jazz Band. The owner was so pleased that he gave us four more shows over the following two months, and
    we still perform there regularly. I learned to see the value of my work through the eyes of my employers, and we have mutually benefited because of it.

  • This past summer I interned at the USDA doing behavioral data analytics. Within the first week, there were a lot of unfamiliar software program, policies, and acronyms (the government LOVES their acronyms) thrown at me. I was overwhelmed to say the least.

    I was briefly walked through the basics of the projects I would be working on and how to navigate some of the programs I would be using, but after this overview, I still had many questions. I didn’t want to “burden” my supervisor or upper level employees and seem like I needed hand-holding, so I dove in head first and attempted to teach myself the workings of the statistical packages. This resulted in me using valuable time learning by trial and error and making many mistakes along the way.

    This self-reliance and reluctance to ask for additional direction and explanation, as seen in my experience as well as is covered in this article, ultimately ended up hurting my performance as an intern. A week and a half into my ten week internship, I decided to speak up and ask the many questions I had accumulated. In the thirty minutes it took my supervisor to answer my questions, I had learned more than I had the past several days trying to independently interpret the tasks at hand.

    This reinforces that lack of self-doubt and not asking productive questions only hurts job performance. Asking questions of your supervisors is not a sign of weakness in the workplace, it shows that you are curious, looking to grow, and committed to completing tasks to their highest quality.

  • This lesson extends past just the workplace. Even before you reach the career stage in life, the lesson from this article in essential. In college, I had to take a programming class as part of my major, but I had no experience with any sort of programming. It was beginner-intermediate level difficulty, but for someone who had never attempted to programming it seemed like a challenge greater than any prior.

    Each week we were given a new lab to complete within two hours. As expected, they started out fairly easy, but about a month in, we were tasked with making programs with multiple functions within other functions all serving one, seemingly simple, task. There were a number of times I forgot syntax or certain operators necessary to complete the task at hand. Other times, the program would simple give the error message and no more, forcing me to figure out the problem myself. During both of these set backs, I was afraid to ask for help or guidance in fear of looking incompetent in any way.

    Eventually, I would force myself to go ahead and ask the professor for some guidance. He seemed glad to help, especially since he could tell I at least tried to figure it out myself, but came to him when I did all I could. In fact, one time I couldn’t figure out why my program wasn’t reading a variable correctly, saying it was undefined, so I called my professor over. As he was going over the program with me sitting there, I spotted the difference before he did. It was a simple capital letter difference that invalidated the variable. As soon as I pointed that out, rather than scoff or scold, he simply laughed and we joked about how a simple error could give such a headache.

    This is a tame example, but it can be translated well into the workplace. It is incredibly important to ask for help when you need it, especially when you establish you want to work hard and do well.

  • Beginning a new experience, whether in the classroom or in the workplace, is going to come with a learning curve. While it can be tempting to dive into the work and appear to be an expert at the topic at hand, this strategy is often counterproductive. It is impossible to know everything about a task or job when one is just beginning, but no one wants to appear incompetent or unprepared on their first day of work. However, asking questions often leads to better results and a better reputation around the office as someone willing to learn.

    I learned this lesson myself at my first internship. The summer after my sophomore year of college, I interned at an advertising and public relations firm. When I began the internship, I had not yet taken any marketing or data analytics classes. I was unsure of what to expect, seeing as this was my first internship, and just believed that I would pick it up as I went along. A few days in, my boss asked me to complete some research about the effectiveness of different online advertising methods. He used marketing jargon, such as click through rate and conversion rate, that I was not yet familiar with. Instead of admitting that I was not sure exactly what those terms meant, I assumed that I could get by on simply googling the terms and teaching them to myself. However, I quickly learned that I was going to have a hard time keeping the definitions of all these terms straight and learning how they related to each other on my own. Having to go back to my boss and admit that I was not completely sure of what I was doing and that I needed further help was much more uncomfortable than asking for clarification up front. Luckily, my boss was extremely understanding and gave me the guidance I needed to complete the task. From that day on, I was sure to always ask questions up front if I was unsure about something. This improved my work, as I was able to work more efficiently when I understood what I was doing. It also improved my relationship with my boss because I was not afraid to be honest with him and ask him for help when I needed it.

    As stated in this article, being curious is often a benefit to employees. Being vocal about struggles and uncertainties will ultimately make them more productive employees. I agree with the article that this curiosity requires some sense of self-doubt. Being overly confident often results in employees believing they can take on too much and figure out any obstacles on their own. This results in them making costly mistakes and having to take more company time to fix these mistakes. The importance of asking for help when it is needed cannot be overemphasized and is a lesson I will carry with me throughout my future experiences in the workplace.

  • A curious mind leads to numerous benefits in both the workplace and in the world outside of work. We all have a deep desire to be understood. This is the reason we communicate with each other. We use words as some of the tools for this communication in the hopes that we will be heard and understood. Many times, the way we know that someone is listening and understanding is when she asks questions to dig deeper or clarify.

    The same is true in the workplace. During my time teaching at a nonprofit in China, I encountered innumerable examples of this truth. When designing summer English camps for students, questions were what kept me on track and revealed to my boss the progress I was making. But the curious mind and questions carried over from my preparation time into my time with the students. My boss knew that I was working hard and getting somewhere by the guidance and feedback I was asking for, and the students knew I care because I both asked them questions and gave them feedback.

    I agree with this article, but I believe the implications carry far beyond the office and can positively impact all areas of our lives and interactions with others.

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