Keep asking until you understand

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Yesterday I was listening to a conversation between my girlfriend and her niece. Her niece is 12.

After a fun game of laser quest, she asked Kate what she did as a job – becoming gradually more curious about what jobs really entail as she starts to make pans for her future.

“So, what do you do?
I’m a project Manager. I work for a Youth Organisation called Future Foundations.

What does that mean?
So I design training courses and programmes that help young to develop life skills, leadership skills and be more confident in themselves and their future.

So what do you do every day?
Every day and week is quite different. Some days I sit in front of a computer and plan all the different tasks I have to complete, sometimes I meet with schools teachers, sometimes I make plans for how the sessions will happen. When the training programmes are happening I train the staff that will work with students and help set things up. There’s lots of different things I have to do.

So is it a bit like a youth club?
Yes it is. Just like lots of youth clubs combined together with different topics.

And your job is to plan what happens?
Yes exactly.

I understand, that sounds really good.”

As I walked alongside Kate and listened to her niece ask these questions it really struck me how determined she was to fully understand. And how she tested Kate to speak in a way that made sense to her.

It made me think how often we have conversations and pretend to know something when we don’t have a clue. And why we feel afraid to ask for clarification or an alternative explanation. And on the flipside, how much effort we make to help people understand things in a way that makes sense to them.

My little lesson of the day was to keep asking until you understand, to be okay with not understanding straight away and asking better questions until you do.

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