If You Don’t Understand, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

A  few months ago a friend of mine asked me to have a look at the statements from her private pension fund because it was not clear what the returns and the charges for the service were. I reviewed the documents as well and I couldn’t understand them either.

I advised her to call the fund and ask for clarification. She found out that the commissions were so high that it didn’t make sense to continue investing. The result: She exited this investment to cut her losses. She wished she had done it many years earlier.

We all have been in a situation when we don’t understand something but we are afraid to ask.Why? Because we don’t want to look inexperienced, uninformed or even stupid.

When you don't understand, ask questions

When you don’t understand, ask questions

To build your confidence, it would help to do some research beforehand to understand the basics-  you can find plenty of information online.

In this way, you will able to ask the person you consider an ‘expert’ more advanced questions.  You will also get a feel whether he/she really masters the topic.

So, next time you don’t understand your bank statement, your electricity bill or your mortgage payments, make sure you ask somebody to explain it to you.

If you still can’t get it, either

  • they cannot communicate it clearly, or
  • there is something wrong.

Be persistent until you are satisfied with the response. Whether you like what you hear or not, it is better to know where you stand because you may be able to do something about it.

The bottom line: Devote your energy to understand the things that really matter. Get into the habit of asking questions for topics that you may not feel comfortable (e.g. your finances, health care issues, etc). This attitude will pay off in the long run.

Have you been in a similar situation? What did you do?

Please share your experience so others can learn.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author, consultant and speaker. She works as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her blog b4iapply has been recommended by The Guardian for professional development.

This entry was posted in Coaching, Personal development and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to If You Don’t Understand, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

  1. Vipan says:

    This is so true -in fact in March 2002, The Joint Commission,in the US launched a national campaign to urge patients to take a role in preventing health care errors by becoming active, involved and informed participants on the health care team. The Speak Up™ program encourages the public to:
    S peak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don’t understand, ask again. It’s your body and you have a right to know.
    P ay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you’re getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don’t assume anything.
    E ducate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.
    A sk a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
    K now what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care mistakes.
    U se a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by The Joint Commission.
    P articipate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

    So this applies not only to any financial issues but also in the Health Care Arena.

  2. You raised an excellent point Vipan. Health care is an area so important that you need to be informed and fully understand the options available to you. Thank you for valuable comment.

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