Silence... Until the Men's Room

THE ROOM WAS PACKED. EVERY SEAT TAKEN. The audience attentive.

They laughed. They smiled. They took notes. All good.

But when I finished, they didn't ask a single question. Not one.

I'm not used to silence. Usually hands go up immediately. They want to talk about it.

I poked, probed and even suggested a few questions to get them started. Still, not one question.

That all changed in the Men's room. I got one question after another. Several people came up to me in the hallway outside with questions. One emailed me a question later.

So why wouldn't they ask questions in front of others? The questions they asked privately weren't highly personal. Were they shy? Were they afraid of looking foolish... or concerned about appearing not to know?

As a youngster, I often didn't ask questions I should have. As a result, there were many things I never learned. I now wish I hadn't been so shy.

You'd think we'd be over that hesitance by now as business people. What knowledge or understanding do we miss simply because we don't ask? What is that failure-to-ask costing us -- and our businesses?



UPFRONT | Excerpts from Carl's talks and teaching at Drexel's LeBow College of Business.

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