When is enough, enough?


As one of the more recent hires at my architecture firm, there have been many instances when I simply did not know what I was doing.

There, I said it. There may have also been some rare instances where <cough cough> it seemed like I knew what I was talking about, but really didn’t. That’s the beauty of youthful ignorance.

But, for the times I can’t convince even myself that I know what I’m talking about, I have to reach out for some help. Whether it’s a technical question relating to a detail I’ve never drafted before, or a software-based inquiry on how to better organize indexes and schedules in Revit, it is nearly impossible to know every single thing, every time – especially when you are a newbie like myself. That’s why asking questions is important. If there is one thing I’ve learned, if you never ask – then you may never get an answer. But, truth be told, there is a point when asking too many questions becomes, well – kind of an annoyance. Nothing says “I’m too lazy and unmotivated to figure something out myself” like asking a question every thirty seconds. In a professional setting where time is money, like say – an architecture office, it is a crucial and necessary skill to curb the temptation of asking too many questions.

Luckily, I have created a simple list of 3 tried and true rules that have actually … never been tried. But, this is my own personal opinion of how to act with professionalism in an office environment when there are no other options but to reach out for some help from a fellow co-worker. Take them with a grain of salt, or ignore them completely. Here they are:

1. Consolidate. There is nothing worse than continually pestering a co-worker (or even worse, your boss) time and time again with silly questions. Breaking someone from their “zone” (a.k.a “work flow”) leads to decreased productivity and an overall negative work environment. Plus, it can be pretty darn annoying. Instead, consolidate your questions into a list-like format and knock them all out with one fell-swoop. Your boss will be much more appreciative.

2. Be aware. If you find yourself standing and waiting to ask a question for more than 30 seconds, chances are it is probably not the best time to be asking. Be aware. Come back at another time to ask, or even better – try again on your own to figure it out. Remember, we are architecture professionals trained specifically at creative thinking and problem solving.

3. Be concise. “Brevity is the soul of wit” – and being succinct is also the sign of a straightforward thinker. Be concise and straight to the point; knowing the problem and how to articulate the question more precisely will give you a quicker, more direct answer. Everybody wins.


So, there they are. My two cents on courtesy in the office environment. Implementing these rules will, in my opinion, show that you are not only respectful of your co-workers but that you have an ounce of “office” common sense. You also might find yourself being invited to a few more office parties.

Happy designing.

*question mark image courtesy of Lee Lilly’s photostream on Flickr, used under the creative commons license.

*office image courtesy of Owly HootSuite’s photostream on Flickr, used under the creative commons license.

2 thoughts on “When is enough, enough?

  1. Stupid questions are easier to handle than stupid mistakes.

    W.C. Higinbotham, Capricorn.

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