Why the phrase 'Can I ask you a question?' drives athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush nuts

How do you respond when someone approaches you and says, "Can I ask you a question?"

Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush is in this situation frequently. "This is the question I get asked most often, and it drives me nuts," he wrote in a recent LinkedIn post. Though he doesn't want to "dismiss people that hesitantly ask me this question," it frustrates him because "it vocalizes those messy, hierarchical power structures that [he], and the company at large, try so hard to nip right in the bud."

Throughout his LinkedIn post, titled "Ask and Ye Shall Receive," Mr. Bush stresses that the last thing he wants is for athenahealth employees to feel uncomfortable asking him questions. Instead, he proposes an "open, creative, collegial culture" and an "honest and welcoming" environment.

Rather than being asked if asking a question is permissible, Mr. Bush wants to hear more questions like "'How can I make this happen?'" and "'How can I achieve this goal?'"

Additionally, Mr. Bush himself is working on asking more questions at athenahealth. "In a company prided on its employees being both teachers and learners, I want to commit more to this atmosphere in the new year and tenaciously contribute to and gain from all those who work around me," he wrote.

Click here to read the full post on LinkedIn.

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