But I'm not here to report on a good lecture. I'm here to register my anger. Our department has someone who insists on asking brutally tough and vicious-sounding questions at lectures. I have no problem with asking tough questions; it's mainly the confrontational tone, the absolute failure of tact and respect I'm sick of. For example:
- If you're going to ask a question, ask one. Don't ask three with your pitch and volume rising throughout, so the first question gets lost in the mix (and is often incoherent to begin with).
- If you're going to accuse someone of misquoting, why not say, "I remember this quote differently. Are you sure that's how he put it?" I don't recommend beginning with, "You misquoted so-and-so." Though when it turns out that your accusation of misquoting is wrong ("would you like the page number?"), I do have the pleasure of hearing you shot down.
- If you're going to be the first person to ask a question, don't immediately leave after the speaker has answered, whether you have a good reason to leave or not. (Letting your dogs out five minutes earlier than you would if you stayed for the whole q-and-a is not a good reason.) It makes you look petty and as if you're trying to draw attention to yourself.
- If you're going to ask a question, don't yell. In fact, you don't even need to raise your voice at all.
- If you do choose to stay after asking your question(s), don't talk through the entire rest of the q-and-a so other audience members can't hear. You may not be aware, but not only is everyone else being civil, you're supposed to be modelling professional behavior for graduate students. Does your incessant prattling mean I can take your class and talk during your lecture or during someone else's presentation? Can I pretend to authority by aggressive disagreement? Can I abruptly leave?
- If you have a question, please decide what it is before you ask it. When you claim to have three questions, but really you have one question that you keep revising as you speak, it makes you seem incoherent. And the thing is, we know you're not incoherent. We know you're otherwise articulate and intelligent.