The art of asking questions in a group setting

In business school, Dan and I used to sit in the back with Tyler during out second year for one of our Ops Management classes. We would lean back and chill while many of our classmates were putting their hands up vigorously for air time. One of the things that Dan said was so profound that it stayed with me till this day: “Sufen, there are 3 types of questions of questions that are being asked and only 1 of them is valuable and relevant.” In his words:

  1. I love the sound of my voice and I love hearing me talk — please don’t do this to the rest of us, it gets old after a while.
  2. I have a specific question that only I care about and I want to waste $xx of everyone’s time and money asking it — please talk to the Professor after the class or send him an email. You can handle this offline.
  3. I have a question that will improve everyone’s understanding or brings up an interesting point that will help people see things differently — please go ahead and ask this!

I love this framework and find myself having to stop myself from doing #2 quite a bit. It’s definitely an art and as long as your intentions are coming from a good place, most people are very graceful and gracious :) So go ahead and ask away!



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I make hardware smart by integrating new technology with state-of-the-art software. Passionate about bridging the gap between industry and STEM education.