414-351-1999

Question:

Are you weird?

Answer:

If you are naturally curious and you are willing to ask a question (especially with a large group) then yes, you’re weird.

Until a while ago, I’d never really thought of folks who ask a lot of questions as weird, the outliers. Now, I’m convinced.

And if you’re one of those question askers, you’re weird, but may not know it.

The story of this little discovery is worth a mention.

You may know that I have an identical twin brother. From time to time, Larry and I are in the same business seminar. In this instance, while Larry was asking the questions I usually ask, I got to observe the rest of the folks in the room.

It was obvious that over half the group was disengaged and hoping for it to end. Hung over? Maybe. Aggravated by time spent on additional questions? For sure. Given that many of our counterparts didn’t fully understand the subject, I was surprised by the lack of engagement. But there it was, live and in person. True, not every subject will float everyone’s boat.

But there must have been another group, and invisible one, with a pregnant question in their mind, waiting to be birthed. But the time passed, their will waned, and the question disappeared. “Will they think I’m stupid?” “Will they learn I’m an imposter and don’t belong?”

Learning this has changed the way I approach folks in the industry. I ask them for permission to treat them like beginners. Sometimes I demand a question, or ask them to explain it back to me, or ask what the question is behind the question. Sure, it creates some discomfort. Those of you on the receiving end of this experience know the line of questioning.

Maybe you’re that person with the question, afraid to ask. Please ask anyway. Just for fun if nothing else.

Or maybe you wonder why no one asked any questions during your presentation. Maybe these thoughts can help you extract some dialog and a question out of a seemingly silent and stingy audience.

Speaking on behalf of the outspoken: Look at it this way. We’re curious too! You want to know more about the subject you called about or solve the problem you have. We want to understand what YOU know, so we can be helpful to the best of our ability and get you the real help you need.

With that, thanks to you weird ones. The Kirk Staches, the Jeff Boldts, the Tamara Stolles. You are a strange group indeed. Driven enough by curiosity, with the hubris to ask the question. There’s room for more of you.

Until next time,

Tom

Tom Gelin
Air Flow Inc.
8355 West Bradley Road
Milwaukee, WI 53223

414-351-1999

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