The Critical Step You Need to Take Before Asking a Question at the Office


By: Michele Lando

Let me Google That For You which has the tagline “For all those people who find it more convenient to bother you with their question rather than search it for themselves.” has become an online sensation, resulting in Gifs, memes, and more. 

There’s nothing wrong with asking a question as long as you’ve taken the proper precautions before doing so. The critical step you need to take before you ask a question at the office is simple.

Google it.

It sounds so easy and like it should be common knowledge, but there’s a reason googling prior to asking a question has become a widely appreciated internet joke. All jokes aside, taking action before asking a question about how to complete a task or what a term means will make a big difference in your career.

Why taking action will make a difference

The internet gives us the power to look up and learn just about anything, yet it seems that more and more people are lacking the drive to seek out answers themselves. According to a study done last year, 72% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills such as research. There’s no problem in asking a clarifying or an explorative question, but asking to define a term or how to complete a simple task on a widely used software may come off as lazy.

By the time you type out your question in an email, you could have typed that question into your email browser and very possibly obtained the answer. Taking action and seeking out information before posing the question to someone else will help you get recognition for your initiative, will help you complete your job more efficiently, and will save everyone time.

Even if you don’t find the answer, doing research will benefit you

Even if you aren’t able to find an answer, researching your question before asking it will enable you to ask an informed and educated question. When you pose a question at work, superiors will often ask if you have done research on it, or they will point you in that direction. If you’ve already taken it upon yourself to do this step, it will make the process easier for everyone. 

If you aren’t able to find what you were looking for, you can articulate this, or ask a clarifying question if your research provided conflicting answers. This shows motivation and highlights that you are willing to work for the answer instead of simply asking someone else to do it for you.


If you don’t research your question before asking, it could cause tension

From a managerial or customer service side of things, it can be very frustrating when someone asks a question about a definition or how to complete a task that could easily be accomplished by searching the question online.

Asking someone else instead of taking initiative and searching for this information yourself comes off as lazy and can also come off as disrespectful. This might surprise you, but asking someone else how to do something instead of looking up how to do it yourself can suggest that you don’t value their time. At the end of the day, time is money, and wasting someone else’s time will never serve you well.

Questions can be great tools to help you grow and thrive at the office, however it’s important that you make sure to take action and research your question before you reach out to someone else. If you take initiative, do some research, and seek out answers before asking, you’ll become more productive, more efficient, and more adept at key skills which have been waning.

What makes up a good question in your opinion? Let us know in the comments?

A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and founder of She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your resume, style, and boost your confidence.