Have you ever felt like you were the only one who didn’t understand something in a conversation with your family members or peers? Maybe your lack of knowledge on a subject matter made you feel inferior or made you worry that you looked stupid.
No worries! Everybody experiences these self-conscious moments in their lives. A fear of asking questions is extremely common. However, it is more important to consider the answer to this question: How did you react in this situation?
The fear of the unknown can be crippling.
Did you find yourself too afraid to request a clarification or to ask additional questions? This may mean you suffer from a common phobia. This fear exists in tandem with social anxiety, and this article will refer to this phobia as “question aversion.”
Most people will remain silent, allowing the fear of asking a potentially stupid question to paralyze them. This fear controls them when it comes to concepts they don’t understand, and they worry they won’t ask the right questions.
The truth is that those who are afraid to ask questions miss a great opportunity to learn.
You may be asking, “OK, what does this have to do with investing?” The answer is: A lot.
How to identify your social anxiety as a new real estate investor
When you are new to the world of real estate, it is common to feel overwhelmed and plagued with insecurities. You may even struggle with (gasp!) imposter syndrome.
According to Psychology Today, imposter syndrome is defined as: “A psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.”
You may find that your lack of knowledge on a concept makes you feel inferior in a group of investor peers, and therefore socially anxious. By hiding your feelings of inferiority, you may ask only simple questions or say nothing at all. However, if you do not ask the complex or hard questions, you are actually hurting yourself.
Let’s discuss why asking questions is essential to your success.
More advice for newbies from BiggerPockets
Why is it important to ask questions?
Asking tough questions can help you minimize your mistakes, save you money (because you minimize your mistakes), and speed up your investment journey.
Here is a real estate example:
When speaking with sellers on the phone, they may be confrontational (if you haven’t run into this, you’re obviously not speaking to enough sellers). Because of this demeanor, your instinct is to assume they don’t really want to sell. They must be tire kickers, you think, and you just want to end the call.
Due to your perception of the seller, you limit your conversation and don’t ask tough questions. Unfortunately, by not consistently asking the hard questions, you miss opportunities to get to the real reasons why such sellers call.
Some sellers may yell at you, but if they are eventually willing to engage you in a civil conversation, you can learn from them.
Challenge yourself by forming the habit of asking tough questions to the following team members:
- Escrow officers
Try this and see what you learn. What’s the worst case scenario? They act like a jerk? Then you’ve learned important info. Just as with making an offer on a property, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Powerful realizations for the question-averse individual
When you become self-confident and have a positive self-awareness, opportunities and success await you in the professional arena. Once you overcome your insecurities, you can focus on growing your knowledge and succeeding in your professional career.
Here are several powerful realizations that will change your life when you stop listening to your fears.
There are no stupid questions
Ignorance is not equivalent to stupidity. You may not know about a concept or understand it, which is why you need to ask questions. Asking does not mean you are stupid but just that you don’t know a particular situation.
There really is no such thing as a stupid question.
There are probably others who have the same question
More likely than not, you are not the only one with your question. Other investors, when they were newbies, struggled with the same question you want to ask. And perhaps other newbie peers feel afraid and are stuck in their silence too.
Take the initiative to ask your questions because it won’t help only you. You may be helping others gain insight as well.
Questions encourage productive discussion
It’s natural to be nonconfrontational. Because of this, we often limit our opportunities to gain a deeper understanding from those with whom we are doing business.
Fear could keep you from a potentially life-changing prospect. By overcoming the fear of asking questions, you generate valuable discussions from which you and all your peers benefit.
Asking questions may earn you respect
The CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, said, “We run this company on questions, not answers.”
Children, innovators, recruits, students, employers at job interviews, and brilliant thinkers all learn by asking questions. The key to your success is to become an inquisitive real estate student.
You earn the respect of your peers for taking the initiative and time to ask questions. You are doing your due diligence and being a team player, which benefits everyone else as well.
You also earn the respect of your mentors by demonstrating that what they have to say is important, and you seek to learn more. You are acting on your curiosity and then listening to what they have to say.
How to overcome a fear of asking questions
Let’s discuss several ways to optimize your chances of learning at the level you are at today.
Start with smaller forums
It may be difficult to ask tough questions, including the fear of being judged and not wanting to feel vulnerable. If you are a newbie and in a room full of seasoned investors, you can feel intimidated. When starting out, smaller forums can help you feel more comfortable asking questions.
A solid resource that includes an “Investing in Real Estate for Beginners Forum” can be found here on the Connected Investor’s website.
Phrase questions for the benefit of everyone
One of the hardest questions for me, in the beginning, was asking a seller: “How much do you owe on your house?” In the beginning, that seemed intrusive. Who would tell someone they don’t know what they owe on their property? However, the majority of the sellers do not mind giving that information. It depends on how you frame the question.
One approach is to ask: “Do you have any liens or mortgages on the property? If so, are you current on your mortgage?” Another approach is to ask: “If you don’t mind me asking, what do you owe on the property because I’m aware that the values of property in that area fluctuate, and I want to make sure we are not going to have any issue with giving you the correct value or a fair offer.” Two different approaches, even if you get the same result.
The Real Estate Rookie Podcast
New to real estate investing and not sure where to get started? Join Ashley Kehr and Tony J Robinson every Wednesday and Saturday as they break down the basics with deal analysis, investor interviews, and listener Q&A. Tune into the Rookie Podcast to learn and be inspired about real estate investing for beginners.
Accept invitations and roles that give you opportunities to ask questions
I was talking with a new investor, and he said that he has nothing to offer to the group. He didn’t want the other investors to feel like they were wasting their time working with him.
In a situation like this, it is important to ask as many questions as possible. Do not let the fear of being judged limit your possibilities to learn from those willing to teach. You cannot learn if you are always teaching. You also cannot learn if you are not asking questions.
Don’t ask too many questions either
It’s important to note that while asking questions is essential for your success, you do not want to become guilty of creating question fatigue. The more talking you do, the less listening you do, which means the less learning you do.
While it’s important to ask questions, be careful not to ask too many or ask the same question simply rephrased.
You can’t allow your assumptions of what others are thinking to control your learning process. By overcoming your fear of asking questions, you build your self-confidence and set an example for your peers.
Think what would have happened if Albert Einstein, Plato, or Sir Isaac Newton decided not to ask their questions.
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.