How Many Questions Are Too Many?

Asperger’s & NLD Career Letter, May 2019

Recently I was asked, “What is the difference between asking for help and needing your hand held and not being a self-starter?” This is a great question, because often my clients do not ask for help when they need it. This can cause a person to spend too much time trying to figure something out and miss a deadline. Or, he may make an incorrect guess and then have to re-do an assignment.

Asking for help is a good thing, but it is also possible to ask too many questions. At some point, and an employee is expected to perform job tasks independently. “Self-starter” refers to someone who takes initiative and performs tasks without being told what to do and when.

Let’s suppose that a new employee is learning an order entry process. She will probably have questions the first few times she uses the system. But within a day or two, she would be expected to follow the process on her own.

How can you tell if you are asking too many questions?

Neurotypical co-workers usually will not state this directly. They will make statements such as, “You should know that by now,” or “We have discussed this already,” or “The answer is in your training manual.”

If this happens to you, the first step is to determine what is getting in the way. If you have trouble processing auditory information, ask for written instructions and/or take notes. If you easily forget new information, create a check list for multi-step procedures. Should you realize that you do not understand a fundamental part of a task, request additional training. It may be that you need to see a demonstration or get additional practice.

Sometimes I work with clients who ask questions they already know the answers to. They are seeking reassurance due to anxiety. Repeatedly asking the same thing is irritating to co-workers. It makes it appear that you are not paying attention to what they say. An effective strategy is to get in the habit of pausing and asking oneself, “Do I already know the answer?” It can also help to write down a process for checking one’s work (“First I will make sure that I completed the four steps; then I’ll match the columns to the report,” etc.).

Copyright 2019, Barbara Bissonnette, Forward Motion Coaching