• Mark Shaw

Is this a Pen?

In giving presentations I often hold up the object in the photo and ask the audience “what am I holding?”

The typical responses include a:

  • Pen

  • Parker pen

  • Parker ball point pen

  • Writing device

….. to which I always respond “no”.

You see no one suggests it is a back scratcher, paper weight, temporary paper clip, secret-spy poison injector, secret-spy camera or an ear cleaner because to 98% of us it is a pen and if I use it for something else, I’d happily tell you what I use it for.

However it is different for the 2%-ers (see 

They don’t respect the facts or care about the opinion of others.

This is why I argue for people to clarify if the ‘thing’ under discussion is a FACT or an OPINION.

You see a fact is something we all agree upon and an opinion is everything else. While making a 2%-er understand this can be challenging, it is very worthwhile when it is achieved.

Back to my presentation. I then explain how when my children were very young (under 5 yoa) and would come running saying “daddy he hit me” my response was to ask “did you hit your brother?” to which a common reply was “no I punched him”! 

To 98% of us there is no difference between a hit and a punch.  To the remaining 2% there is a huge difference.

My experience indicates that when dealing with a 2%-er the best thing to do is focus on the facts (and be able to prove your facts).  2%-ers generally want to discuss their opinion or interpretation of the facts rather than simple accept the facts as agreed to by everyone else. 

I always recommend you go to the trouble of actually agreeing on the facts with the 2%-er. 

Then discuss the management problem caused by these (now agreed) facts.  A template for such a discussion can be downloaded from

So next time you are going to ask someone “is that a pen?” check if they are a 2%-er. If they are, then check your facts before you ask the question.  If not, just get on with business as usual.

This extra little step will generally help you avoid a major debate and a lot of personal stress for you.

Ps. If you are unsure how to use the template I referred you to, call me and I am happy to share my experiences.

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