What about The Photocopy Guy?

When I was in Church today (Yeah, after absent for 4month, I finally go to church:D), I suddenly remembered one of my experiences when I was in my undergraduate studies. It was a funny one and pretty humiliating for me:(, but I learned something for it, so I’m gonna share my experience here.

This story happened on my second year, during compressible flow class. At that time, my lecturer asked the students the difference between ‘total derivatives’ and ‘local derivatives’. No one was willing to answer, so I raised my hand and volunteerly answer the question.

I forgot what did I exactly say at that time, but my answer was correct (I’m telling the truth:D). I talk about some stuff to explain the difference and I can feel that whole class is amazed by my answer at that time:D, but not my lecturer. After hearing my answer, he paused for a second and replied, “Okay, If you talk to a (smart) man like me, I will understand your answer. But what about the photocopy guy? What if the photocopy guy over there ask you the same question?”

Yeah, he was right. My answer was too complicated and filled with uncommon words which common man won’t understand. I forgot that the main idea of answering a question is to make the questioner knows and understands the answer. So, good answer should be a simple one and understandable to everyone, not something that contains fancy words that makes it looks cool.

At that time, I was embarrassed. The lecturer even called me ‘the literature expert’ for giving such a fancy answer. But I’ve learned my lesson. Since then, everytime someone asks me a question, I often (often, not always:D) review my answer, whether it is easy to understand or not.

So, next time you answer someone’s question, ask yourself this: “What about the photocopy guy? Will he understand my answer?”



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