Questioning vs. Asking

These two words—questioning and asking—have different meanings, although both often refer to the same meaning.

When we question a person or a piece of work, we meet with resistance. Questioning judges, investigates or interrogates. It looks for gaps, expects a valid reason why there are gaps, and tells that there might be consequences.

In facing with resistance, we simply say, "I'm just asking!" trying to release some tension.

We don't say, "I'm just questioning!"

That's the nuance.

When asking (non-rhetorical questions), we have curiosity, we seek information purely to fill our knowledge gap. We ask because we want to learn.

That's why the advice for young professionals (e.g., junior software engineers) is "ask questions," not "question things." Although we want them to question the status quo, we expect them to ask first.

We may argue about both being the same if the intention is correct. I don't think so. Because the intention is invisible.

We don't see anyone's intention when they question us or ask us questions. When someone messages me, I read the message. I pay attention to the words they choose.

If we're in a conversation, the other side may make their intention somehow visible. Because we hear their voice. We observe their behavior and body language.

As long as they don't reflect their intentions on their tone, body language, behavior, or words, we hear them as either condescending or uninterested in learning how things are done.

If we say, "I'm just asking!" one more time, we know where we stand.

Now, I ask, are you questioning or asking a question?

If you're going to ask, ask. Don't question.

If you're going to question, first ask, then question.

Short Form Last Updated: Oct 4, 2022