Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Answers, We Give Answers

I had a conversation with my wonderful daughter-in-law this afternoon. Lisa is expecting a baby at the end of November. Lisa also has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and has just been named VP of Science and Innovative Technologies for the company she works for. Need you guess that I am proud?????

Anyway, back to the subject. We were talking about the inappropriate questions she has gotten since admitting to the world that she is expecting. She made me laugh with some of the answers she has developed to the more intrusive questions. Being the wonderfully gracious young woman that she is, she smiles and then gives an answer that is totally illogical, but she acts like it is full of reason. It leaves the rude questioner pondering whether they should try for the next question or just shut up. Most take the second route.

I am telling you this for a reason.

This morning at the WEN networking meeting, we followed our usual agenda of giving short introductions and then during the next part of the meeting we were all invited to write an issue, challenge or problem on a slip of paper. These were then collected and put into a basket. Three or four were pulled from the basket to have the brainstorming power of the group try to help solve the challenge. The authors of the notes can remain anonymous or reveal themselves. The one rule is that each question-writer has to remain quiet and write down all suggestions -- even if it has "already been tried before."

I wrote a challenge, that of having to deal with a person who is not easy to deal with. I gave more details this morning but not enough for people to guess who the person is. I did not give the sex of the person, because I felt that while it is my issue, the problem could be very universal and everyone could learn from the answers if the details were more general. I got some really good suggestions.

After the meeting, a person who has not been around WEN long enough to know me that well, came up to me and asked me if that person was my husband. I truthfully said, "No." But I was a little ticked off that she had the nerve to ask the question. What business was it of hers?

So to bring this around full circle, if I'd had my conversation with Lisa yesterday instead of today, I could have used her protocol to defer the questioner. I'm having a lot of fun tonight dreaming up answers that I could have given that would have been very Lisa-like. And I'm just picturing in my mind the look of confusion that would have been displayed!

So what do you think would be the perfect answer to this rude question?


Anonymous said...

I don't know. Maybe the WEN member's question was just bold and not so rude.

Your challenge may have made her think of her own husband (or significant other), and she was just trying find a common point of interest with you.

Sandy said...

How about, "No, it was you."

Louise Kahle said...

You could have said in a very incredulous voice, "Of course not! My husband obeys all my orders!"

Natalie Ferguson said...

I think I agree with Leasa. Often, when you talk about something and someone thinks about it in the context of their own life, they will come up with an answer that seems really rude to you but is more a cry of help. It's tricky in those situations because you've been asked to talk about fairly personal issues and the line can be quickly crossed.

I'm really interested in the feedback you got - any tips for dealing with difficult people?

As for your daughter in law. Awesome.