Do you refrain from asking people questions?

Hello peeps,

I was wondering if any of you perceived asking people questions – even to long-time acquaintances – as intrusive, prone to a poor interpretation or met by a Why-do-you-care reaction?

Such a stance has been instilled into me as a kid.
My parents would insist on me replying to random personal questions by "I don't know", even if – for example – my cousin would want to know where my sister was studying. Moreover, my parents would inconspicuously get annoyed at family for asking similar questions even for conversation purposes, because they saw that as an unhealthy curiosity. I haven't really stuck with their "I don't know" reply because it amounted to lying... and for some impactless information on top of that.

As a result, I've developed a self-consciousness towards even asking common questions like "Where do you live?" by fear of having others think that I were a stalker or something. It's now become a hurdle in my social life because of such perception of asking basic questions as potentially bothersome to my interlocutor.
People would therefore think that I'd either not give a toss about finding more about them or that I'd be too egocentric to even care about others, whereas in fact I just don't want to risk making the person uncomfortable by asking what would've made my parents irritated — this is all on a subconscious level.

Reciprocating questions has been my go-to for a while as people wouldn't ask something they wouldn't want to be asked back, but I'm working towards changing this attitude because it's proved more negative than positive so far. One would think they're being nice to give people their space but in fact, come off as selfish.

I realise that such misgivings aren't realistic because few would be rude enough to tell me to mind my own business if they didn't like my questions.


Thanks in advance for your inputs :)
 

Phoenixx

Well-known member
As an adult, I also don't like asking a lot of questions or even asking for help when I need it. I find this now really impacts my learning in new environments and really hinders me from being more open towards other people.

I've always been a curious person, and as a kid I always wanted to learn things. So of course naturally I would always ask a "why" or "what is [this thing]" or some other similar question. Some questions I asked were met with annoyance and getting yelled at by my parents. Especially controversial ones that naturally a kid wouldn't know as controversial or touchy. As for asking for help, my parents were always very clear on being independent. As I got older, asking for help turned into, "You can't do it yourself? or "I'm busy." so of course I was left no choice but to figure it out. Just like I had to feed my own curiosity by doing my own research. And thank heavens I'm in an era where Google exists because a lot of my general anxiety stems from uncertainty and needing to (temporarily) calm that uncertainty by knowing what to do and how to do it.
 
Asking questions -- in a small talk situation with an acquaintance I don't know super well where I don't have a specific reason to ask a specific question -- has always been the hardest part of socializing for me. I'm okay with asking for help now (though I never did all the way through school unfortunately), with asking something on an impersonal level that I need to know, but it feels like I'm imposing if I start asking someone about their life. It's presumptuous if they haven't been asking me personal questions first... and if they have, it's super hard for me to think up questions when I feel like I'm expending all of my energy to field their questions and barely surviving it. I just want to collapse and relax after I successfully field a question, not think up a question.

Reflecting their questions back sometimes works, but it feels awkward to keep saying "and you, how would you answer your question?"
 
As an adult, I also don't like asking a lot of questions or even asking for help when I need it. I find this now really impacts my learning in new environments and really hinders me from being more open towards other people.

I've always been a curious person, and as a kid I always wanted to learn things. So of course naturally I would always ask a "why" or "what is [this thing]" or some other similar question. Some questions I asked were met with annoyance and getting yelled at by my parents. Especially controversial ones that naturally a kid wouldn't know as controversial or touchy. As for asking for help, my parents were always very clear on being independent. As I got older, asking for help turned into, "You can't do it yourself? or "I'm busy." so of course I was left no choice but to figure it out. Just like I had to feed my own curiosity by doing my own research. And thank heavens I'm in an era where Google exists because a lot of my general anxiety stems from uncertainty and needing to (temporarily) calm that uncertainty by knowing what to do and how to do it.
For the adult part — are you referring to people in general being busy or to your parents? I find it rude and sad regardless of whoever that might be. You raise an interesting question about Google! How anxious would one in need of assurance be without Google? Suppose something's odd is going on with your skin and you need urgent assistance on what to do or not to do, but due to self-conscious you're holding out. Google's help is invaluable.

Asking questions -- in a small talk situation with an acquaintance I don't know super well where I don't have a specific reason to ask a specific question -- has always been the hardest part of socializing for me. I'm okay with asking for help now (though I never did all the way through school unfortunately), with asking something on an impersonal level that I need to know, but it feels like I'm imposing if I start asking someone about their life. It's presumptuous if they haven't been asking me personal questions first... and if they have, it's super hard for me to think up questions when I feel like I'm expending all of my energy to field their questions and barely surviving it. I just want to collapse and relax after I successfully field a question, not think up a question.

Reflecting their questions back sometimes works, but it feels awkward to keep saying "and you, how would you answer your question?"
I relate to this, asking impersonal and factual questions is less troublesome and doesn't feel like you'd be imposing something on the person.
People wouldn't usually be frank enough to reply "I don't want to reply to that", they'd either smile, dodge it or be rude about it.
Thinking up the right questions has also been hard to me in certain situations especially when you know someone well enough, the usual "what do you do in life" doesn't work anymore and it'd call for more elaborate questions
 

Phoenixx

Well-known member
For the adult part — are you referring to people in general being busy or to your parents? I find it rude and sad regardless of whoever that might be. You raise an interesting question about Google! How anxious would one in need of assurance be without Google? Suppose something's odd is going on with your skin and you need urgent assistance on what to do or not to do, but due to self-conscious you're holding out. Google's help is invaluable.
My parents mainly when I was growing up. But I've encountered the "busy" excuse at work too trying to learn things. It really just continues to encourage me to just figure it out myself, like I have been for the last 20+ years of my life. But like I said before, I am trying to be better at being more open and asking for help. Because not everyone is so self-absorbed in their own lives they can't be bothered to help anyone else.
 
My parents mainly when I was growing up. But I've encountered the "busy" excuse at work too trying to learn things. It really just continues to encourage me to just figure it out myself, like I have been for the last 20+ years of my life. But like I said before, I am trying to be better at being more open and asking for help. Because not everyone is so self-absorbed in their own lives they can't be bothered to help anyone else.
This sucks, if I didn't have my parents teach me things while growing up (before the internet became ubiquitous) I'd have hardly found out about that if not from classmates or the TV or books, but it's not the same as the internet where you get to hear everyone's version
 
The talk of Google reminds me of perhaps my most ridiculous failing to ask for help situation. My car broke down in a left turn lane a hundred miles from home, near the edge of Carson City but at least a quarter mile from the nearest building. It was 2007 and I didn't have a cell phone yet. I put on the hazard lights, stepped out of my car. And proceeded to spend literally several hours pacing around the median not finding the nerve to ask drivers to call me a tow, pondering whether I should abandon my car and walk into town to try to find a phone but chickening out of that every time I resolved to. A policeman came along and yelled at me that I should be directing traffic instead of taking pictures. Finally he came back a while later to get my car out of the way and call a tow (I wonder if he'd have bothered if I was on the shoulder instead of blocking a lane).

Thank the Google for not having to worry about that happening again. Although I think I could handle it better today anyway.
 
The talk of Google reminds me of perhaps my most ridiculous failing to ask for help situation. My car broke down in a left turn lane a hundred miles from home, near the edge of Carson City but at least a quarter mile from the nearest building. It was 2007 and I didn't have a cell phone yet. I put on the hazard lights, stepped out of my car. And proceeded to spend literally several hours pacing around the median not finding the nerve to ask drivers to call me a tow, pondering whether I should abandon my car and walk into town to try to find a phone but chickening out of that every time I resolved to. A policeman came along and yelled at me that I should be directing traffic instead of taking pictures. Finally he came back a while later to get my car out of the way and call a tow (I wonder if he'd have bothered if I was on the shoulder instead of blocking a lane).

Thank the Google for not having to worry about that happening again. Although I think I could handle it better today anyway.
This sense of guilt of bothering others is common enough, there's less pressure when others voluntarily step in to help.

I remember being asked the time by someone (away from where it could be seen), the guy felt the obligation to justify that his phone battery had died. This suggests that people feel less easy asking about things they could ask their phone themselves.

Oh good :) Would you have openly asked for help today?
 

SilentAndShy

Well-known member
Definitely. In fact, thinking back to my school reports one of the things it noted was that I should ask for help when I need it (most of the times, I still didn't incase the question was wrong or would cause embarassment)

To this day, my anxiety stems from day-to-day questions that I should have asked when I was younger (around car maintenance, ordering meat at the butchers) and simply at the age of 34, married, with children, how on earth do I ask my siblings these questions without them looking at me like: "WTF?! This is why I said to you to do this when you were younger" etc etc

If it wasn't for Google and the internet and forums then I would have been absolutely buggered. For example, whenever I take a car journey - even locally as to my embarrassment if someone asked me for directions in my town I think I would not have a clue - Google Maps is brilliant at reassuring me what I need to look out for and I prepare for where I can park, what lane I need to be in at a roundabout etc.

All these are questions I would never ask my siblings or my friends but it leaves me in a position that if a setback happens I rue not knowing this stuff.
 

lily

Well-known member
it's ok to ask people questions, if you feel uncomfortable you can ask your question with a 'if you don't mind saying' in the end or in the beginning state that you ask questions in conversation if they don't mind and then they'll tell you an answer.
 
Top