Speaking with friends and colleagues is always useful for getting to know each other and sharing cares and fears, ambitions and failures. But there is a particularly awkward moment in a conversation that sometimes really irritates me. You know, when someone stares at you like you are not from this planet because you do not know the answer to a question or you are unfamiliar with a subject? You are also looked at as some unearthly being because you unknowingly asked a 'stupid' question.
This generally comes from people who start a conversation with you at a function, or elsewhere, without properly introducing themselves or finding out who you are and why you are there. You know, the type that launches into some arcane topic because that is their interest, without even considering whether others care about it. It is generally someone whose ego is bigger than his or her ideas and they just want to get something out to show their expertise.
Come on people! Just because you know something, that does not mean the whole world knows it too. People should not just assume other people understand what they are talking about. It is humiliating to get the 'Is there anybody in there' look. If someone asks you a question, just answer. Whether or not you think they should know the answer.
People need to be aware that not everyone is worldly. They believe that if you are asking questions about a topic then you do not know anything about that topic. That’s just silly! Whenever I am talking to someone about some new piece of technology or a new stock on the market, I prefer to listen to them and then ask questions. That's just my style. Even if I have something to contribute, I still like to ask questions, just so that I can be clear about the other person’s point of view.
So I encourage those of you who find yourselves in a conversation where your knowledge of the topic is lacking to fire away! Do not be afraid of people thinking you are stupid because you ask a question out of ignorance. Not asking when you do not know the answer is stupid. As the Chinese proverb said, "he who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever." Do not let those "experts" intimidate you.