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“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Was an official US Government military policy from February 28, 1994 through September 20, 2011. Not asking or telling somehow implied that a safer experience and environment could exist.

Today’s discussion is not on the merits of this policy. Today’s blog is about what happens when we find ourselves and others not asking about things on many fronts. Consider these situations of not asking.

  • Not asking for help. When help is needed, not asking means not receiving. It can also mean that a project is left incomplete, or a team is left without needed skillsets being available, or that team members burn out, or worst-case, that injury, harm, or death occurs. Asking for help can range from being a nice thing to do to include others in an activity to being a life-saving step when danger, illness, or injury has occurred. Asking for help is easier for some than others. When we’ve been let down repeatedly, it becomes difficult to ask for help. When we’ve received needed help, asking remains easier to do.

Consider your skill level for asking for help. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being “I am an expert at asking for help”) – how do you rate yourself?

  • Not asking a question for clarification. Unclarified directions and assignments can lead to poorly completed tasks, to employee frustrations, and even to failed projects. Clarification can be asked for by employees and team members. For instance, in a meeting that seems to be wandering (or running) off-topic, asking “Which agenda item are we talking about?” can bring the discussion back on course. Clarification can also be asked for by managers and leaders in such ways as “Help me understand what steps are being taken to ________” or “Let me know where we are in the process of implementation. I’d like to understand.”

Consider your skill level in gaining clarification. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being “I am an expert at asking for clarification”) – how do you rate yourself?

  • Not asking for confirmation. How many times have you shown up for an appointment, conference call, video-meeting, or in-person meeting only to find yourself a no-show situation? Asking for a confirmation saves you time and frustration. Call, email or text the Day, Date, Time, and Location/Media with “Confirming” as your subject line.

Consider your skill level in gaining confirmation. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being “I am an expert at asking for confirmation”) – how do you rate yourself?

  • Not communicating may mean not asking. If we are not communicating with others how our projects, work, or lives are going, we may in fact not be asking for needed help. For instance, not communicating our pains and concerns in a doctor’s appointment means that we are not providing information about experiences that indeed may require help. Failure to provide information, not communicating status updates, or omitting project details man result in a failure to ask for needed resources, needed time, or needed budget. Communication is key.

Consider your communication skill levels. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being “I am an expert communicator”) – how do you rate yourself?

Asking is a skill set needed for success in our workplaces and for well-being in our lives. Learning to ask questions, ask for input, ideas, clarification, and confirmation will improve your work life and can improve your daily life too.

What have you not been asking?

What are you ready to ask about? Ask for?

Note from Jana: Your meetings – online and in person – are your most important tool for achieving team successes, for clarifying, confirming, and asking questions. If you’re ready to take strategic steps toward managing meetings and results as effectively as possible, we’d love to talk with you about partnering.

Workplace – the Blog: Managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives takes work. Together, let’s explore what issues and activities affect us every day (or some days) that we go to work

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