Every person, no matter how sophisticated, has areas in which they need basic instruction.
Every person, no matter how sophisticated, always has areas in which they need basic instruction. This statement is what I often say to my new teams and new hires in order to set the ground rules and open up the lines of communication. I don't know what you know and don't know: without condescension I may give you information or instructions you think too basic. Do not take offense. I may be prone to do that for a while until we get to know one another's business styles: I expect you to do the very same; do not assume that I know everything; tell me what you think and I will do the same. This way we can easily give one another basic information: the kind of information that one may think is unnecessary to say, or the kind that might otherwise make people feel that they're being condescended to… but is important. We'll learn about each other faster.
Utilizing the viewpoint that every person, no matter how sophisticated, has areas in which they need basic instruction is not the same as allowing that there are no stupid questions. The former allows a way for others to fill our gaps in knowledge that are so deep about some subjects that we don't even know what questions to ask.
From the 2010 archives.
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