Wednesday 4 July 2012

What do you think comes right back at you!

After asking this “what do you think?” question, how I would respond may depend on whether I am on a one-to-one situation or in a group setting.

Group situation

Newbie – If the question is so basic until I feel embarrassed for the enquirer, I would ask the rest of the group who can answer that question?

It kills 2 birds with 1 stone. 

Remember our school days where there’s a teacher’s pet that is ever ready with the right answers? Yup, they are still with us as grown-ups. Some even end up as bloggers. Hey! Don’t look at me! I’m the class clown. 

I cringe every time I see “it’s my passion to educate”. Brurrr….

This smart alec will feel happy he/she is “educating” his peers; and the enquirer will get the gentle message that he/she has come unprepared.

Plus it helps greater group interaction so I as facilitator can relax a bit. I save myself for more intellectually stimulating questions!

Think he/she knows – If I know his school of thought, I will quote from his “guru” to drop the hint I know where he is coming from. And I will follow-up by “I am sure you know” this and that complementary and opposite schools of thought.

The purpose is not to destroy the enquirer’s position or point of view; but to engender a bit of self-doubt within his over-confidence. He learns quickly what we meant by “beware the man of one book”!

But what if I have no freaking idea what school of thought or book this enquirer has read? Now the eggs are on my face… Hey! I never said I am a know-it-all!

I would say “that’s a very interesting point you’ve brought up”, and ask the group how many shares that viewpoint?

If only a minority agrees or understand what talking him, phew! That means I am not the only one! 

Then it’s just a matter of replying “I thank you for your interesting contrarian or alternative viewpoint. But it seems it’s not very mainstream… By the way, can you give me your source of reference so I can get back to you with a more complete reply?” 

Now I will be prepared for the next group session in case this “cold door” (unpopular) school of thought’s disciple pops-up again!  

But if the majority agrees, then I will use this Zen trick. I will pour water into an empty cup, and pour water to another cup that’s filled with water to the brim. (No props draw!) 

This way, I can get the group’s understanding to “temporarily” pour out their prior knowledge to make space for what new ideas I am introducing.  I can finish my sharing and we all can have a more productive Q&A session at the end without too many interruptions in-between. 

Experts – If I sense this bugger is out to get me or likes the limelight, I would let him have the stage. The more he talks, the more he may put his foot in his mouth, or others in the group will ask him to sit down and stop showing off!

People are not stupid. (OK, some are!)

And if I find this expert has a very valid point to make, I couldn’t be happier! Nothing stimulates me more than an intellectual debate! (Honey, honey… of course I love you in your teddy more!)

I have to be conscious that I don’t neglect the rest of the group members so it does not become a 2 man show.

There’s a Chinese saying “no fight; no know friend”!

What do you think?

As you can see, the “newbies” and “experts” are much easier to communicate with. It’s the “think you know” that are murder!

“Scholar meets foot-soldier, how to bloody communicate?”

Do you have similar experiences?


Unless you are a recluse that has no human interactions, I shall leave it blank so you can have fun filling-in yourself.

I know you know I know you know the answers already!!!



  1. Replies
    1. LOL!

      Like I've said, the more I talk, the more I will put my foot in my mouth and all the things said in the past will boomerang back at me.

      But we still must boldly venture forth and open our big mouths - nothing ventured; nothing gained.

      It's like the dating ritual. During courtship, man will promise woman every thing - even plucking the stars for her. But after marriage, try asking him to buy tampons for you!

      I am neither a newbie or an expert. That means... Ai yeah!

  2. all i know is there is nothing to gain in a group unless we have a common enemy (no, markets are not our enemy).

    1. Coconut,

      You are special.

      Most people prefer to "hide" in the group.

      Notice how often people say "we" when they mean "I"? As if they are "royalty".

      "They did it. So I follow lor!"

      That is perhaps why successful investors and traders succumb less to "group think".

    2. no i'm not successful at all, in fact i consider a failure.

      yes i'm a natural born leader (leader as in don't take order from others), but there is no one following me haha, immagin that.

      a leader without follower, and i am learning to be a follower without leader, so what? trading ofcos. what else can i do with gambling blood flowing inside me?

    3. and you know they are so often groups thinking and doing even in this blog.

      so what if you learn from someone, a guruuuu, and you copy and make tons of money, so what?! is that successful?

      not in my terms.

    4. The lone wolf stalks his prey.

      His blood boils in anticipation of the hunt...

      His stomach growls in hunger...

      He flashes his saber tooth...

      Lang lai le! Lang lai le!

      #$^&$##%&*!!@ Stupid shepherd boy spoils the show. LOL!

    5. haha, i think i say too rudely, consider i'm talking to myself. we have to be polite you know.

    6. but again (not again!) it is a sign that i'm feeling at home here, just like i'm in the market place (trading), really! thats how i feel when trading as in blogging here.

  3. Hi SMOL

    Tapping on the wisdom of the class is helpful to gain understanding and tap on collective experience/information.

    However, it should be balanced with sharing of valuable knowledge and experience by the trainer/facilitator.

    I recall in Confucian ethics, one of the confucian scholars (or was it Confucius) himself said that one can learn from any person learned or otherwise.

    Be well and prosper.

    1. Panzer,

      My dilemma is that I am that "otherwise" person scratching my head why more educated people would want to listen me?

      Took me a quite while to discover why HR likes to ask me to give talks and presentations.

      I tell it like it as :)

      And being a pretty face helps a lot too! (Shameless!)

  4. {yes i'm a natural born leader (leader as in don't take order from others), but there is no one following me haha, immagin that.

    a leader without follower, and i am learning to be a follower without leader, so what? trading ofcos. what else can i do with gambling blood flowing inside me?}

    HA! Ha!
    i think every "real" trader and even investor too should be like what Coconut said. Real fierce independent thinking and action. At the same time trying to learn from others.
    Hi SMOL, what do you think? (Ha! Ha! finally i have a chance to ask this question by you.)

    1. Temperament,

      I agree wholeheartedly!

      If you take a look at the right column, I am so glad to have journey companions while others have followers ;)

      I learn from investors and traders (ebony & ivory); but I call myself speculator.

      Ah hoo! Ouch, ouch, ah hoo!

      The lobo sings to the moon
      rejoicing in his independence from the pack
      but when mating season comes
      the lobo quietly rejoins the group

  5. aham..

    Temperament you misunderstooded, what i meant by "follower without leader" is not to learn from others.

    it simply means following others blindly, the key words here is blindly, serious! why blindly cos we don't know where the market is going and how far it is going.

    you are right with leader without follower thought.

    1. in another words, trying very hard not to be too smart an as.hole.

  6. Coconut,

    "Leader without follower; follower without leader"

    This sentence is beautiful.

    Simple, yet it evokes critical thinking on 2nd reading.

    I'll save it as inspiration for a future post. I hope I will do it justice...

    You probably did not meant it that way; but lots of brilliance in this world are the result of mistake or misunderstanding.

    (We humans are one such example)

    You are beautiful!

    (Ok, kopi on you, LOL!)

    1. hey, haven't finished la,

      think and immagine a complete hert say the welderbeast, how would the "leader think"? "WTF, why are you guys following me? i'll kick you, @#%@#@@"

      the fact is he dosn't care anyone following him.

      how about the followers? "hey don't blame me, i am born to smell your.., you know what!".

      the fact is they are born to follow their elder. fellow without thinking.

      at the end, they all got what they want.

    2. as a human, throughout our life, we are born and learn to be both a leader and a follower, we have to, no need to waste time explaining.

      but when comes to trading and i guess very much in investing, we are just behaving and displaying only one of a kind, either a leader or a follower but not both, how to make money i ask you? (good example is hitler or sadam husan, they don't know how to be a follower haha)

  7. "back in primary school, i was at the top of my class, within top ten in my school. every year end, there will be endless of prizes and gifts i remember, i take it!.

    and there was this poor classmate of mine who is somewhere in the middle to bottom of the class, we are close friend back then.

    then right around p5, out of the blue, without any notice and sign, without teacher awareness, he shot himself right to the top of my class, even shot up to the very top of my school, first to be exact. oh mine, what happen? i remember my maths teacher will always sit aside and let him do the teaching for him, no joke!

    he went on to excel and if he is not a professor now, i will consider him a failure.

    what about me, ya me, i went on to become a drop out in secondary school, study using the same method as in primary school - no talk, no touch no eye contact! (damn dog whisperer)"

    1. his nick name, "pineapple" (read as in hokkien), no joke!

    2. Ong lai? Your generation like fruit nick-names hor? LOL!


      Unfortunately (or fortunately), you were not diagnosed as "special".

      Nowadays, teachers and parents are more aware of dyslexia, autism, hyper-activity, and a myriad of "special" traits in all of us.

      Life is lonelier if we don't fit into the mainstream super-highway. Never mind "express" or "normal" - it's still the same highway for the rest of us.

      Lucky you! You left the highway early! Can you imagine yourself as professor teaching Market Efficiency Theories when there's trader blood in you?

      Autism may hinder your academic "success"; but who is to say it's not an asset when it comes to trading?

      Mental note to myself:

      Never play mahjong or card games with Coconut. He probably can count cards and know all the probabilities!

    3. you are right, it fits very well surprisingly. its all about numbers and (rate of) changes (without looking at profits, or chart or news).

      "no win means lose", "no up means down", "you die or i die" fits my mentality as well.

  8. "what about me, ya me, i went on to become a drop out in secondary school, study using the same method as in primary school - no talk, no touch no eye contact! (damn dog whisperer)"

    Hi Coconut,
    i may not be as good as you in pri. school but i did receive book prizes for my effort. So in pri sch i was the best in my family but the worst in my family for sec sch. And from SEC SCH i drop out to ITE.
    Actually i think i am worse than you. But now what you blog here is really something to think about. It's really good to know how another person's look at things different from ours. It broadens our thinking.

    Hey SMOL, what about you? I mean your schooling history. Now you really show you have the gift of a "SUPER-SALEMAN & a SUPER WRITER With HUMOUR" Ha! Ha!
    Thanks for your sharing with entertaining value too.

    1. i'll tell you another true story of mine, temperament.

      primary school, i was top hurdle (100 metre for primary school) in s'pore, really and i still hold the record from my school today!

      in the first year of secondary school spots day, i was so relax (sure win one was my thought) during the heat of 110m hurdle and you know what happen?

      when the gun fire, i dash towards the first hurdle and i hit (kick) it, then the second, then the third!!! i drop out of the race. that was the most humaliation and also the start of my long term back problem.

    2. Temperament,

      I moody already lah!

      My schooling history is in "My Story" tab above my blog.

      I never won any prizes in primary or secondary school :(

      Does getting a colouring book during Pri 2 after my hernia surgery count? (Yes, I got tua LP. Laugh all you want!)

      I always the borderline case and belong to the bottom half of the class. Red and blue mix mix kind.

      I remember my primary 3 form teacher asked my parents for pep talk after mid-year exam when I turned communist - all red ink...

      Lucky that was before there were primary 3 streaming. If not, I will be posted to Primary 8! (I am against streaming at primary school level for vested reasons!)

      Somehow I passed primary 3 and muddle through to Sec 4. I guess my "excuse" is that I am late developer?

      Hey! Lucky my 5 O' level credits beat that two show-off qian-beis ;)

      One boast he top 10 in class, another boast got book prize. Tak boleh tahan!

      Well, at least I used to have tua LP. You got or not?


    3. don't like that le, if i don't boost, how to emplify my failure?

      like the saying goes, "before i tell you my million dollar mistake, first i must tell you how i make that million"


    4. Right!

      I playing with you and Temperament lah!

      I think I made a mistake... ITE is post-secondary education.

      Temperament win liao... Kopi on him!

    5. SMOL,
      i know you will somehow always be the class clown even up to now. There is entertainment value being the "clown" but ensure sure no one is hurt. "Ouch..... i am hurt..... how tong ah....."

      Hi Coconut,
      Indeed it is sad to hear you did not achieved in your favourite sport event instead brings you long-term back problem. By the way i also have long-term back problem. but it is due to so called famous "slipped disc". How is your back- problem now ? Is it under control or "healed". i thank God i have managed to "control" my back problem.
      And i was the best high jumper in primary schools too. i did compete in Sec Sch too.

    6. Temperament,

      "How tong ah..."

      Die, all 3 of us behaving like primary school kids now.

      You speak like that at home?

      Must stop and act our age. Wait others laugh at us 3 lao wan tong!


      P.S. Sayang, sayang

  9. totally agree that "think you know" is the most difficult to handle. in fact i'm dealing with now right now, but it's made difficult becoz he is a friend. i try avoiding discussing stock with him (becoz this mindset when comes to trade/invest is totally different, in fact i find that it's a joke! of coz i didn't tell him that) but he seems to take offense *sighz*

    1. durio,

      That's why I find "what do you think?" quite useful.

      They answer their own questions (of course they they like what they hear).

      All we need is to say, "That's very interesting!"

      They happy; you happy.

  10. unfortunately it doesn't works in my scenario

    when his stock went up after he sold (i think his fear of market tumbling further). he shoot this question to me "how?"
    so when i ask "what do you think?"
    he actually took offense and reply "i thought i already told you already?" LOLZ

    i can tell u he is just expecting me to tell him some suggestions / advises. but he think he is not receiving suggestions nor advises, just information for his decision making. remember, he is a "guru", so how can "guru" be needing any advises? and if he feels idea is crap, he tells me straight at my face "crap!" LOLz

    there are plenty more, but i think this one is enough to illustrate what kind of person i'm facing. of coz i'm not angry or what, he is fine when we chat other stuffs except stock market!

    that's why i thought the avoidance or flight to safety approach whenever stock market is discussed :(

    imho, when you use this approach, you also have to consider the role/level (e.g teacher-student) of person you interacting with. i think this was discuss at length in some interpersonal communications book?

    so what do you think now? :P

    1. You are wise FML!

      If I were you, I can only smile too.

      Only when his cup is empty would I offer this sharing:

      Scale-in; scale-out.

      A friend is someone who refuses to be your clutch.

  11. Hi SMOL,

    You will make a really good teacher. hehe

    Most of the time the 'what do you think' qn is posed to me on one-to-one setting. The think-he-or-she-knows one is the most headache as they will keep challenging whatever being said. Actually there is another class of people - the non-relevant. They will pose questions that are not even relevant to my field of specialty. *faintz*

    1. Rainbow coin,

      It helps with the passing of time (sounds better than age).

      I suffered a lot during my time when I attended leadership courses that tried to impart "coaching" - something quite foreign to Singaporeans in general (or maybe it's just me?)... I got brain-washed!

      Sometimes when cornered one-on-one by "wu liao" people, I will play this Stephen Chow trick:

      Wu liao: Poke, poke, poke (insensitive #*%%!#^%#!!@)

      SMOL: I just woke up, teeth haven't brush, breakfast never eat. I don't know anything! (Then stare back with deadpan face. Cannot laugh! Although sometimes hard when looking at the wu liao's stunned expression!)


      You can't debate with someone who has already admitted he/she doesn't know. It takes 2 hands to clap ;)

      "You win liao lor!" also works with Singlish speaking friends :)


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