Sometime ago I worked with someone who I occasionally meet for lunch. I found that I enjoyed the conversation so long as I ended all of my sentences with question marks. If I did so, he would talk and share a wealth of opinion. As soon as I started using periods, he started looking at his watch.
I was reminded of him this last week when I met with a cadre of sales and marketing people. People full of opinions they want to share. I decided that one way to measure someone is by the ratio of periods to question marks they use. Question marks indicate a desire to listen and share. Periods simply mean you’re talking.
Some people presume to know exactly what we need to hear and are full of periods. Some don’t have enough information yet to target their comments, and so instead of adding insight, add frustration. Others know they don’t know things and wait for questions and ask some of their own.
Of course, when I judge others like this, my first thought is to wonder about my ratio. Like when I was eating dinner at a friend’s house, and his wife said sternly to his daughter: “You’ve spilled spaghetti all over your shirt!” At which point both my friend and I looked down at our own shirts just to check before making any further comments.
So have you ever considered your ratio of question marks to periods?
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