Wednesday, October 05, 2005

There are no silly questions ...

Published in Daily Times, Lahore on October 5, 2005


Sir: “There are no silly questions, only silly answers,” our professor of communication used to tell us at the European School of Business Administration (INSEAD). He would give this advice in the context of the course on “making effective business presentations and handling audience questions”.

Regardless of how silly,infuriating or even offensive a question is, he would say,one must try to answer it intelligently, coolly and politely. That way one is more persuasive and can also gain the sympathies of the audience. General Pervez Musharraf ignored this simple advice during his recent trip to the US. First, during a newspaper interview, he answered a question thoughtlessly by going off on a tangent and making the now infamous “rape-for-visa” comment. Then a few days later, at a women’s conference, when a Pakistani woman pointedly asked him a question about his comment, he simply lost his cool and told the woman in so many words that he could shout louder than she. And he did. His shout was heard not only in the Roosevelt hotel Hall, but is still echoing around the world.

New York

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