There are two types of woodworkers. The type that loves nothing more than to tell you about every aspect of what they do, and the type that thinks you are an idiot for asking basic questions. Be the first kind. Here is how.
Knowing Where You Came From
We were all new once. Even the most seasoned professional once had a hard time with the most basic elements of their craft. Sometimes, as you get better at what you do, you can forget where you came from.
When someone asks you a question that is very basic, remember that you were once asking questions just like that at one point.
If you meet someone that is asking about your project, tell them about it. There is no danger in telling people about what you do, or teaching them to do the same thing. However, the last thing you want to do is…
Don’t Judge a New Woodworker For Asking Questions
When I was brand new, I asked a ton of questions. Being a very open person, I naively expected that everyone I asked would be as talkative as I was. That was a mistake. After a wile I noticed that some woodworkers like to talk, and some did not.
I think that when you belittle someone for asking questions, it’s like making fun of someone that is overweight while they are exercising. They are trying to change their condition, so what sense is there in putting them down? Asking questions is showing that you are trying to improve yourself, which should always be encouraged.
When someone asks you a question, and you know the answer, just tell them. In fact, you should do more than tell them.
Paying it Forward and Being a Good Woodworker
Nobody asks an idiot how to do something. By virtue of the fact that a new woodworker asked you a question, they already think you are smart enough to answer it. You have been complimented by them already, even if they don’t know they did it.
Return that compliment in kind, and help them get through their struggle.
You had to work through things in the beginning, and I bet it would have been nice to ask someone a question a time or two. If you know the answer, help them, and make sure they leave with everything they need to be successful.
Help new woodworkers, and you will help the woodworking community advance. The group is only as good as the knowledge we have, so help out when you can. A rising tide lifts all boats, so making them better will also make you better.
How? You develop a good reputation by being kind to people, and that kindness will be returned when it comes time for you to ask a question.
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