Commenting Out of Context

On Friday June 15th (I often write my blogs weeks ahead of their publishing dates), I had an interesting encounter with someone on Twitter. We’ll call him by his first name, Michael. Michael sent out a tweet re an article of mine entitled “What Would You Do if You Knew For Sure You Couldn’t Fail,” which he was made aware of by a follower of mine, Rochelle Moulton @ConsultingChick (by the way, Rochelle is someone you should know; I posted a guest-post of hers on June 19th entitled “Market Like a Kardashian”—I hope you’ll take the time to read it; it’s a great piece of writing).

This was Michael’s tweet: @ConsultingChick @RobertTerson I’d find something new to pursue if the outcome were predetermined. People thrive on challenge, not success.

His comment was spot on, but I knew immediately that Michael had not read my article. This was my response: That’s fine and clever, Michael, but it ignores the context of the article: dealing with paralyzing fear. Never ignore context!

Michael’s response: @RobertTerson I’m unfamiliar with paralyzing fear. I’m an engineer & so my demeanor is toward problem solving. I read your post. Intriguing.

My response to Michael: Glad you’re intrigued, but you’ve never been blocked from pursuing a goal because of fear? Really? That’s extraordinary!  Was I challenging his assertion? You bet.

This is what Michael came back with: @RobertTerson I’m goal-oriented & have no fear of rejection or failure. The most valued lessons learned are from failure. Contingency helps.

Again, he was spot on, I’ll give him that, but I still didn’t believe he was the superhuman he was representing himself to be.  I decided to do some research on Michael and then I sent him an email:


After I read your last tweet re “being goal oriented and having no fear of rejection or failure, and the most valued lessons are from failure,” I was intrigued myself and so I researched you.  I’m guessing you’re 46 or so, which surprised me–at first I thought you were younger, a brash kid.

Yes, the best lessons come from failure (my friends Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz––wrote a great book entitled Go for No, a terrific read that makes the point as well as anything I’ve ever read); however, abstract theory and human everyday living rarely mesh.

Let me suggest you go to this site and click on THE BOOK, then click on INTRODUCTION, then scroll down to Dr. Tony Alessandra’s Foreword for my upcoming book Selling Fearlessly.  It’s an interesting and, in my opinion, spot on take re fear.  Most people are not in touch with their fear, Michael, your thoughts about yourself notwithstanding.  It sounds good to claim to be fearless, but I doubt it’s 100% true.  That would make you something other than human.

Here’s another “guess”: your initial tweet, the one I called “fine and clever,” was given without ever reading the article in question.  You read the article after we interacted, right?  You made your comment without knowing the context of the article, which is what I objected to; I think there’s a lesson there, Michael.

I read your blogs and LinkedIn page.  You write well; I really liked what I saw.  Since you’re an engineer, I want to recommend you connect with another friend of mine, Babette Ten Haken, who wrote a great book you’d love.

Do You Mean Business? Technical/Non-Technical Collaboration, Business Development and You .  Babette brings together the tech guys and sales guys, so they can understand each other, help move along the sales process.  She’s a colleague of mine in North America’s Best, a mastermind group of sales experts.  I’m the only retired person in the group.

I’d love to get to know you, Michael; if you’d ever like to talk, you can reach me via email or 847-577-1504.  If I can ever help you in some way, all you have to do is ask.  That’s what my retirement career is all about–helping people, giving back for a lifetime of blessings.  My late mother would have said I was in the business of dishing out mitzvahs.

Now I’m going to click on your Twitter follow button.


Robert Terson

Author and Speaker

Alas, Michael never responded to my email or followed back on Twitter. Perhaps he didn’t like being challenged. Perhaps he didn’t appreciate that I had pointed out he tweeted without ever bothering to read the article in question, which really is the point of this blog. If you’re going to comment about someone’s work, I strongly suggest you invest the time to do some reading so you’ll know the context of the work you’re commenting about; otherwise, you won’t know what you’re talking about.

It’s great to be clever; however…it’s a lot smarter to know what you’re talking about.

What do you think?