Friday, March 9, 2012

The Dead Art Form of Asking Questions

Something has been bothering me lately. Actually a lot of things bother me all the time and I'm in a perpetual state of annoyance but that's besides the point. There seems to be this trend that has been running for a while now of everyone explaining (not directly mind you, but you get the general sense) that their life is so much more difficult than it should be. People also imply that their lives are so much more difficult than others lives. It seems like a lot of people use their Facebook walls and other online social spots to whine and hope that everyone tells them how awesome they are. Here's the thing. I agree with all of them. You are awesome. I just wish everyone would stop whining and realize that everyone else around them is pretty awesome too.

I like meeting new people. I became a good salesman and supervisor at Best Buy because I enjoy meeting new people and talking them into stuff. I enjoy going around in my VW bug and making people feel comfortable with the hundreds of dollars they spent for me to go there (and the hundreds more they need to spend to get their system to work the way they want it to :-P). I enjoy catching up with friends and family. In general, I like asking people questions.

Here's another catch. I don't always care a ton about the answers to the questions I'm asking. Sometimes I want to know random stuff just for the sake of knowing random stuff. A lot of people I meet (usually customers) are stoked when I remember almost everything they said the last time I was there. I'm honestly impressed that after two years customers will call my work phone and say, "I hope you haven't gotten into law school yet because I need you to come here and set up a new router and printer for me." It's a good feeling. To remember and to be remembered is what we should strive for in our interactions with others.

I want to give you a list of some cool experiences I've had (most of them with Geek Squad or Best Buy customers) that came solely from me asking questions and taking an interest in other people's lives:

-I held a first edition copy of the Book of Mormon (Oliver Cowdery's wife's copy). This probably is a lot cooler if you're LDS and I am so I was way excited.
-I've met the foremost lawyer in the country on Second Amendment rights. We talked about gun laws, the law in general, his computer (of course...), and he gave me a signed copy of his book (a limited edition).
-I met the guy who posed for John in the following painting:
I actually asked him why he had copies of this painting all over his house. He took one off the wall and showed me the little paragraph that the artist wrote him thanking him for posing for John the Baptist. He also showed me a picture of him when he was younger and it looks exactly like John in this picture.
-I've met several Texas millionaires (oil barons) with houses in Park City. I ask them what they think of Utah and most of them love the people around here. A couple of them hate Mormons. Either way it's cool to know several millionaires that openly admit that I'm smarter than them :-P (that's a joke).
-I've met two people that have traveled around the entire world.
-I've done virus removals and chatted with several people at a concrete business. They actually got me one of their business shirts that they only handed out to employees because they call me "their" computer guy.
-I had one old British lady insist that I be sent back out to help her with her computer. She had forgotten my name and lost my business card but referred to me as "the handsome young chap with the shaved head who is planning on going to law school." I've been there four times to help her with various computer and network projects that come up over time as computers and routers need to be replaced. I could probably tell you a large amount of what has happened in her life and she could tell you about most of mine.
-I had a customer ask me to give a summary of the entire Byzantine empire. When I finished, I asked him to give me a summary of everything he knew about Vikings (as he mentioned he knew a lot about Vikings). Ever read my blog post on L'Anse aux Meadows? I got a decent amount of information from him and then researched further into it.

My point is people should stop being so self-centered and ask other people questions. Take an interest in lives other than your own. I don't care if you don't care about the answers. I don't either most of the time. Make people feel important every once in a while and that, in turn, gives them a reason to be interested in stuff you're doing. Everyone has something they can teach you or tell you. Everyone has tried to become an expert at something. Give them a chance to tell you about it and you'll be a lot smarter in a lot more areas. Thanks for listening and I feel a lot less annoyed now :-P.


  1. Very awesome and true. I really enjoyed this, and I do agree with the importance of being good at making people feel like an individual. Not that you care :)

  2. Great advice!
    The last time I looked at Facebook, I thought I should call the suicide prevention hotline. Then I remembered that folks don't use any sort of filter when they post stuff.
    Social media is turning us into a species of drama queens.

    Time to take a breath and listen...

  3. I think Facebook is great for: posting pictures (sparingly), linking to funny or cool posts and sites, sharing funny or interesting stuff that happens to you in life, and posting life's milestones. Whining about life isn't on my list. No matter how boring, redundant, or stressful my life becomes... I still like it better than the alternative :-P