As long as it is asked in earnest, there are no stupid questions. Sometimes the answer to a question may only seem obvious because we already know the answer. Other times the ‘stupid question’ is asked because the speaker does not mean to be presumptuous, they want clarification. There are times when a question appears “Here’s Your Sign” stupid, but it is, in fact, not a question at all but an ice breaker. The question, with such an obvious answer, is an invitation to a conversation. If such a question is answered rudely, the asker will not likely make another attempt to communicate any time soon.
There are many questions I do not like answering: “Do you smoke?” when I was interviewing was a question I disliked answering. Why does it matter? I don’t smoke on the job and most companies do not allow it, so why ask? Relating the question to health cost issues is not a supporting answer as the company rep did not ask if I drink, take drugs, rob banks, or commit any other activity that might be dangerous to one’s health. It was an imposing question loaded with prejudice. For the record, I also did not answer questions relating to my age, marital status, or religion. In the USA, it is not legal to ask those questions during a job interview.
A question I think silly, but do not necessary hate it is when one of the children call our house phone and asks where we are. They use their cells so much they forget to think about the number they dialed. Once a business called me on the house phone, we had a conversation about a shipment, then they asked me for my phone number. Most people, including myself, think that would a ‘sign’ time. Since they called me, they should have the number. Comfortable with the my relationship with the company, I asked the caller, “You called me, do you not have my number?” She explained that, obviously, she did have my number, but needed to ask for it to gain authorization to call me back: company policy did not allow unsolicited calls. Sometimes what appears to be a stupid question isn’t really that stupid.
There is one question that I do not like being asked. I do not like being asked “How are you?’ where the asker doesn’t listen for an answer. I had a boss that asked this question every morning. I would answer the same, ‘Fine,” and he would say “good,” and move on to his own office. ‘Fine’ is what people say when they would rather say nothing. He didn’t care how I felt; this question as his way of saying, “hello.” One morning, when I was having issues with a CPU that was shorting out, I answered, “frustrated,” instead of fine. He said, “good,” then stepped away from my office door. I raised my voice for the growing distance of his retreat and replied, “How is it good that I am frustrated?” He returned, asked me to repeat what I said. I did and he looked embarrassed. He apologized for not listening to my answer and we discussed the issue with my CPU for a moment. Thereafter, instead of asking how I am, he simply said, “good morning.” I seriously do not like being asked any question where the asker does not listen for an answer or reply. I consider that rude.
If you don’t care to hear an answer, don’t ask the question.