The Art of Dodging Questions

Just a Reminder: Starting August 13th we will be kicking off The Money Experiment: A Community Practice in Financial Simplicity. If you're interested in joining, in I'm giving away two copies of the book. Just go to The Money Experiment - Free Book Giveaway and leave a comment at the bottom to enter. Deadline is August 1st.

Now on to other things...

There are all sorts of things I should talk about, that people want me to talk about, that they've asked me to talk about. But I won't. It feels a little odd not answering a question – sort of like putting on a coat that has sleeves just a bit too short. I am of course the person who has offers an answer to every problem that gets raised in my presence. It drives my wife, and I'm sure a couple other people, nuts.

Jesus was asked a lot of questions, a lot of tough and direct questions, questions about politics, religion, and sinners. If I were Jesus, and knew everything, I would use my flawless apologetical skills to shut down their ridiculous belief system. But I'm not Jesus, and it doesn't seem like Jesus always did that.

It's not surprising that even unbelievers look at Jesus and recognize his debonair approach to tough questions, many of which he answered with another question altogether. Reading through the life of Jesus, one might even accuse him of dodging the original question.

In the past few months I've been learning about the wisdom of patience with words, (learning more than accomplishing really). I've backed out of arguments I felt like I could win, I've let other people have the last word, I've even avoided contributing altogether. This hasn't been easy, but it has made me ask myself why I think more words are necessary, it usually comes back to something along the lines of "because others don't agree with me yet," and for some reason I think more talking will convince them.

Seth Godin, one of my favorite bloggers, talks a lot about permission in marketing. There is a social equity that exists between a speaker and a listener. When I ask for someone to listen to something I have to say about an idea or a product, I am using up some of that social equity. This is the way the world works folks; it's the reason why a two year old is cute for a scientifically proven 4 minutes and 32 seconds and not a moment more. When combined with a sound-byte world, every syllable we use is a significant withdrawal from a meager account.

We often think that the loudest voice is the most powerful. Really it's probably just the most noticeable and obnoxious. There is a Canadian I met in Bolivia named Arturo who taught me a lot about  words by saying very little. I'll give him the last word. His class was having a huge fight about I don't remember what, but they kept going on about it for a half hour before someone finally noticed Arturo hadn't said a word.

"Arturo! What do you think?"

Arms crossed, sly smile on his face, he didn't answer the question directly, instead he quoted God, "Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps his mouth shut."