As an organization, we impart a lot of training programs. As a trainer, I have always encouraged people to ask questions. I believed that there are no wrong questions, just wrong answers. Questions by their very nature are right and will always lead us to learn new things.
Since the last few weeks, I have been forced to think differently. A very common question that well meaning aunties have been constantly posting to me is – How much milk does Yog drink? (Yog is my two month old son). Whenever faced with this question, I am at a complete loss of words. Here’s why –
1. I have never tried to measure how much milk he drinks
2. Even if I tried, it is impossible to measure the total amount, especially when you are breastfeeding
3. And even if I was, by some miracle, able to measure, how would it help to know how much he drinks?
Can anyone gauge if my son was healthy and happy just by the amount of milk he drinks? Among other things, his birth weight, the number of feeds he takes, the amount of reflux he has, his level of daily activity, the average weight gain over a period time, are some basic parameters to measure his wellness. But they never ask any one of these other questions, so they can never determine the correct answer.
I have, therefore, come to believe that asking one independent question without having the relevant background or context in place is actually more dangerous than not asking the question at all. Thinking more on this line, I realized society, in general, runs on such standard questions, which actually mean nothing, but are so much a part of our regular life. Some examples –
To determine how successful someone is – How much salary does he get? Well, Narayan Murthy gets Re 1 per annum as salary. Can he be termed Not Successful?
To determine how good a product was – How many defects were found in this product? If the answer was 3000 defects, can anyone tell whether it was a good piece of development or not?
I think we ask such questions to pretend that we care about the person, product or event. In fact, we don’t really care and we just want to form an opinion quickly.
A wrong question, by default, will beget a wrong answer. Going forward, as a trainer, before I answer the questions, I will try to help the audience form the questions correctly. But as a mother of an infant, I don’t have that luxury. So the next time, someone asks me, “How much milk he drinks?”, my answer will be “He drinks enough for what his body needs”.