Student 1, Professor 0

Some years ago, a learned university English professor was explaining the meaning of a Margaret Laurence novel to an undergraduate class. One of the students objected to his position and was caustically put down.

The next week, the same student raised her hand and rejoined the argument. “I talked to my mother and she says I am right and you are wrong.”

The contempt from the learned professor was palpable. “And just why would you think that your mother knows more about this novel than I do.” Sarcasm dripping.

The reply of, “My mother is Margaret Laurence.” pretty much ended the discussion.

What can we learn from this? Probably quite a few things but the obvious ones are:

  • You never know enough about another person to understand fully how they came to believe what they tell you.
  • Everyone knows something you don’t
  • Be polite when you are right, and be especially polite when you “think you are right”
  • A strongly held opinion is a poor substitute for a simple fact.
  • It never hurts to have a route marked out for the retreat

Be a little humble.  You can learn more with open ended questions than you can learn by asserting your knowledge and expertise and demanding that followers follow.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

One Comment on “Student 1, Professor 0

  1. Pingback: What Can You Learn From A Trout? | moneyFYI

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