There is such a thing as a wrong question

“Ask anything,” they say, “There’s no such thing as a wrong question.”

Well, actually there is.

Let’s start with the obvious:

  • Situational questions: Say you’re in the middle of math class, and you raise your hand to ask if the toilet paper should dispense from the top or the bottom of the roll. It’s perfectly fine to ask that question, just not in math class.
  • Googleable questions: Like you’re bothering a person when you could ask Google. If it’s just for conversation’s sake… well, even then, it’s probably best to come up with a better question.
  • Questions you know they can’t answer: It’s okay to ask probing questions about some deeply spiritual issue, but seriously, why ask your mailman for accounting advice or your third grader about calculus? Don’t believe this actually happens? Ever heard someone ask, “Guess what?”
  • Questions that force a specific answer: This is like when you ask your husband if he thinks your jeans make you look fat, or your Korean students if they’re ready?

The encouraging thing to remember, though, is that there’s often not much of a penalty for being wrong or asking a wrong question, maybe an awkward moment together as a couple.

What else, though? What other kinds of questions should you and I avoid asking?