Monday 2 July 2012

What do you think?

When asked a question, what do you do?

Do you straight away provide the answer, or do you encourage the person asking the question to find the answers themselves?

The former is giving fish; the latter is teaching how to fish.

Those who have gone through coaching or counselling trainings will know what I mean. I myself have gone through many hair-pulling sessions, and shall avoid talking about coaching! It’s so bloody difficult!

I am still fighting my demons…  Every time I feel like “Limpeh kali gong” or “You should”; I’ve to bite my tongue. Now my ability to do French kiss is severely affected…  

It’s perhaps the reason why there’s a hoo-hah not so long ago since most Singaporeans are brought up expecting to be spoon-fed solutions; but at the same time we complain nobody listens to our opinions? Hello?

Today, I shall take the easy way out and focus on the former – giving fish. 

You level what?

Before giving the answers to the person asking the question, you may want to ask “what do you think?” 

By the way, this “what do you think?” question is also a great coaching technique. 

Ok, ok. I’ll stop talking about coaching. I promise!

From the answer the person replying this “what do you think?” question, you can “guess” the “level” of this person.

1)    Newbie – A more diplomatic term for sucker, patsy, idiot, sotong, spider, etc.

2)    Thinks he/she knows – Just read one book on investing for dummies and assume they know everything about investing, for eg…

3)    Expert level or specialist – Don’t play play! This person knows the answer to the question he/she is asking you. Why they so like that? Either to embarrass you or draw attention to how smart they are lah!

See? If you don’t tailor your “limpeh kali gong” answer to the level of your enquirer, you may risk flying over his/her head, or offend the enquirer by talking down to him/her. Or worse, fall into the trap of the “expert” pretending to be “newbie”!

Remember: See ghost speak ghost; see people talk people!

How to avoid getting “what do you think?” questions

Be the first to ask that question!

But it also means you must do your homework and cannot be at “newbie” level. Must at least be “think I know” level.

“The advantage of bonds over dividend stocks is… However, dividend stock is….. What do you think?”

Don’t be too cocky hor! We snake-oil salesperson know many other techniques and tricks to deflect and parry. But I think you get the idea.

Newbie not human?

No lah!

You can ask dumb questions just as long it does not involve you reaching for your wallet in payment.

For questions involving money, it’s best to do your own homework first.

It’s like you going to Sim Lim and asking the salesperson this handphone or PC can buy or not?

You might as well be flashing on your forehead a big “newbie” word. And that can’t be good. When sharks smell blood…

Don’t believe?

If you’ve bought insurance from a relative or close friend when you were a financial newbie, and looking back now you are financially literate, what do you see?

Exactly! If a relative and close friend can do that to you, what more about stranger salespersons? 

What do you think?


  1. I am one of the few honest ones doing sales lor... Hey, don't laugh! It is true! Honest!

    1. Of course there are good ones in all professions AK ;)

      Just like there are black sheep in all industries.

      My point it's better to educate ourselves at least to know the difference between buying something with the help of a salesman and being "sold to".

      If not, we are opening ourselves to the luck of the draw - fully dependent on the "kindness" of others.

    2. I am white sheep.. Sometimes, I look a bit grey and that is because of the pollution that is in the air. So, externalities make me grey sometimes.. I also don't want but I am helpless.. After a bath, I am white again.. ;)

  2. Hi SMOL,

    I ask that all the time during my work. But I think there must be a balance between asking questions until the person can come out with the answers themselves and telling them enough hints/clues to come up with the answers in the first place. If we do more of the former, it can be ultra irritating, especially when the person do not even have the basic information to handle the complexities of more questions. If more of the latter, then it'll be spoon feeding.

    Between teaching a person how to fish and giving them a fish, I think we have to do both. Imagine teaching a starving person how to fish, I don't think he can have enough energy and life to do trial and error before he can catch a fish.

    1. LP,

      Glad you feel that way too. I was telling my facilitators we can't treat co-workers like that all the time! That's what giving me nightmares and especially when I don't suffer fools easily...

      Then I got my breakthrough!

      I use coaching for the few "chosen ones". Those I would like to groom into management or develop as specialist.

      The "others" I just spoon-feed them what they want to hear since when things go wrong, they can always blame me ;)

      We can have equal opportunities; but equal treatments? In our dreams! I've since stopped worrying about all those "political correctness" bullshit.

      I had a different appreciation of those past bosses who never answered my questions directly - forcing me to think for myself.

  3. trading how? who gives us fish?

    1. ops, i just realised i fall into a trap.

    2. Coconut,

      Its that sexy reflection looking back at you when you look into the bathroom mirror.

      I don't know about you, but I sometimes frighten myself in the morning. Then I realised, oh it's me :(


    3. hahaha, sometime only, i almost everyday. hang over from yesterday trading.

  4. Ha! Ha!
    Coconut i am on your side.
    Hokkien says: "Lim peh ka li cong ka see si boh yung. Loh chui the cha ay chai la!"
    Sometimes i found people need to learn by practical or get biten then they will learn. "Cong ka see si boh yong".

    1. small fish, little fish, big fish, they are still fish but they think they are different.

      if i trade with you, either i'm the sucker or you are.

      but if i trade with the market, it does bot matter who i think i am.

    2. Temperament,

      Yes, but what do we do to people we love?

      We nag, and nag, and nag some more...

      It really is not easy. I sometimes laugh myself silly when I caught myself nagging at others!!!

      That's so not cool!


    3. how temperament, nice ha? too fast wrong spelling,

      "but if i trade with the market, it does not matter who i think i am"

      meaning, when trading, knows who is our opponent and who are we comparing with.

  5. SMOL,
    Ah..... same nagging as you until the one hearing it "chow choa". But i believe once we are gone for good, the nagged victim will wake up and learn. Hopefully.

  6. >> 1) Newbie – A more diplomatic term for sucker, patsy,
    >> idiot, sotong, spider, etc.
    that's kinda harsh, personally i felt words like sucker, idiot, patsy should belongs to type 2 below

    >> 2) Thinks he/she knows – Just read one book on investing
    >> for dummies and assume they know everything about investing,
    >> for eg…

    how about techniques to handle these 3 type of people in your next post? what do you think? ;P

    1. durio,

      Funny you should ask! I did write the ways to handle these 3 basic types but deleted them as I try to keep my posts to max around 2 x A4 long.

      Now to cast my resurrection spell!

      Sucker, idiot, and patsy can apply to all types. And I've been, is now, and trust me, will be one in the future!

      I can be "expert" in sales or supply chain evangelism, but I am "think I know" when it comes to computers, and discovered I am "newbie" when I lose money in speculation :(

      And when I make money... I am "Gu Sheng" (equities immortal)!


    2. i see. anyway, everyone faces different kind people from time to time hence it's always learning experience for me to learn of others perspectives / approaches

      actually what u just mention is still type2, at least me :)
      and i can become ugly type2 as well sometimes (who is perfect anyway?) but hopefully i will become better person as i age :P

  7. why i like this blog...

    1, good subject matter, trading/investing and others don't know what.

    2, humor, laughter, happy go lucky, good training ground especially when losing money.

    3, no consultation, no no, i mean "insultation" but can pook pook a bit.

    4, what more do you want?!

    1. Dua liap nee?

      Slap! There goes a female reader...

      Sticking my tongue out.

      All your fault Coconut!

    2. you know ha smol, last friday i cut my losses on my short while keeping my long over the weekend.

      now i can cover my long and go net short again, with a plus start to july. hopefully this time the market will cooperate.

      this just to show case how important is to cutting losses (not using stops) and rebuilt one position or sometime reverse position, to scale in and out and controlling one position size.

      i don't talk for nothing you know haha, still got work to do.

    3. Coconut,

      I am glad I have a full-time trader in you sharing your trading experiences.

      Too bad the open outcry system is gone. I used to visit Raffles Place and stare in amazement at the TV screen showing the "locals" at work with their colour jackets.

      What you have shared is similar to a technique used by proactive investors (me!) who practice "trading around a core position" as opposed to traditional buy and hold.

      Help me see if my technique is similar to yours:

      I have a long position in X stock at $3.50

      Market price corrects down to $3.20

      I believe the stock will correct even further in the next coming days.

      I sell at $3.10 (stop-loss); and buy back my long position at $2.50. (Maintain my long position as before at a lower entry price)

      This way, even though I lost $0.40; but if my stock recovers back to $3.50, I would have made $0.60 as opposed to a "inactive" investor.

    4. please allow me to speak directly,

      1. don't trade that stock if cannot go short (unless you invest)!

      2, if you are bearish, cut that losses and turn net short.

      3, if you think 2.50 is the bottom, cover your short and go net long.

      i'm not saying you are wrong, no. what i say means what i will do. if i'm bearish, short, if i'm bullish, long.

      and don't reference to historic price where so many others do. especially your entry prices, otherwise its difficult to cut losses or take premature profit. do what you think right now is.

      if you are serous about trading, you must learn spreading, hedging and option (use for the same purpose). thats how the pro manage (control) their risk.

      how many times have you got stop out and the market zoom to towards that direction without you, how many times? controlling your position is everything, much more important than market directions.

    5. Thanks Coconut!

      I see my proactive investing still has lots of room to improve.

      I will check out spreading techniques - condor, butterfly and all those cool names. But don't hold your breath! Especially after how I messed up pairs trading!


    6. some times its hard to say but i must say its kind of like "you are wasting your time" (remember smallfry?).

      you really have to up your ability to see different ways of controlling your risk, take advantage of the swing and able to buy just a little more time for market to turn.

      when the market is good, its should feel like picking cherry, if its not, run and take cover. thats how trading should feels like.

    7. No worries!

      I'm not that hard-core when it comes to trading.

      I don't trade that often. I'm still very much a swing or position speculator for kopi money.

      For my core holdings, I am a equities man-whore!

      Now you mentioned it, smallfry long time no come... I wish him well. Not easy to balance work and trading part-time...

    8. thats good for you, as fat and i concluded that unless you are seriously interested in trading apart from making money, its really hard to succeed long term.

      fat's fun was on the floor, now he has to find new fun out of trading, apart from making money ofcos.

      hey i like kopi.


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