Did you ever have a total brain freeze at the worst possible moment? I experienced that last night when speaking to someone in my field who I have a lot of respect for on a technical level, and I made myself look bad. I asked him a technical question which I should definitely had known the answer to. He’s counting on me to do a technical task that is way more complex than the simple task I asked him about, and he commented on how naive I sounded asking the question. “You’re an engineer and you’re asking me that question?” Well, of course I was mortified that I even asked the question. Maybe I should have been more mortified upon his tactless comment, but I’ll take the fact that he had just received some bad news a few minutes before my question into consideration.

But I took his comment as a challenge. I hope I put his mind at ease over the rest of the conversation, and then afterwards, I quickly answered my own question by accomplishing the technical task using that software, with ease.

I guess the lesson is twofold: 1) just because something is obvious to you, don’t assume it is obvious to everyone — especially in this day and age, when there is just too much to learn to know everything, and 2) think before asking a stupid question. One slip and you can end up working ten times harder to re-establish a positive reputation.

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