I was at a Ruby user group meeting last night. The meetings are usually pretty chill. It’s a supportive environment where people give talks on what they’re working on, chat on what they find interesting, and put themselves out there.
But here’s what happened.
Katz was visiting from out of town. He even gave a lightning talk about his controversial Kickstarter project. It was interesting. I enjoyed it.
But then another attendee started giving their talk on metaprogramming. It went a little like this:
Speaker: Talk talk talk talk. Talk talk talk? Demo demo demo.
Katz: Wait, why are you doing it that way? You should be doing it this way.
Now, there are definitely places where people get heckled during talks. Your local user group should not be one of them. I thought this might be a little comment. So I didn’t say “Hey, STFU.”
But no. The comments kept coming, up to the point where the (flustered) speaker ended their presentation and
Katz plugged in his own laptop, and proceeded to redo the demo.
It’s simple people skills — don’t correct someone (even if you’re a million percent sure you’re
correct) when they have the floor. Dale Carnegie
recalls when he corrected someone — only to have his friend contradict him and say the other person was right:
On our way home that night, I said to Mr. Gammond: “Frank, you knew that quotation was from Shakespeare,”
“Yes, of course,” he replied, “Hamlet, Act Five, Scene Two. But we were guests at a festive occasion, my dear Dale. Why prove to aman he is wrong? Is that going to make him like you? Why not let him save his face? He didn’t ask for your opinion. He didn’t want it.Why argue with him? Always avoid the acute angle.” The man who said that taught me a lesson I’ll never forget. I not only had made the storyteller uncomfortable, but had put my friend in an embarrassing situation. How much better it would have been had I not become argumentative.
Feel free to invite Katz to your user group meeting. But if he, or anyone, pulls that kind of shit, be better than me and stand up and say something. Because if we want to make everything better for everyone
, you have to give people some slack.
Let them speak in public. Let them be wrong! It’s the only way people will gain confidence and be involved in the community. And for the love of god, don’t interrupt their talk just to make yourself look smart.