Very predictable answers

Being in this business awhile and doing thousands of interviews, it’s almost like I know the answer to questions before I even ask them.

You see in these politically-correct times people tend to play it safe when talking to the media as not to create a stir. And by “playing it safe” it usually means giving the exact same answer somebody else did to the same question.

They figure if it worked for them, then the answer will work for me.

Here is an example.

If someone gets hired in a leadership role, I tend to ask them what type of leader they are.

Here is what that person will say 99 percent of the time: “I’m a collaborative leader, looking to get everyone involved before making a decision.”

This sounds much better than the alternative: “I’m going to rule this place like Frank Sinatra – ‘My Way.'”

Even if they are thinking the latter they tend to walk the straight line and say the former.

This is especially evident with the never-ending stream of political candidates that come to town. If I ask a candidate what their strategy is during the campaign they undoubtedly say: “A strong grassroots effort has been key.”

This statement portrays the candidate as a man or woman of the people. That line sounds way better than if they told me: “A few rich white guys are funding this campaign, so listen to me.”

Which we all know is the truth on some campaigns, unfortunately.

Once every few weeks I’ll talk to a person who has self published their own book and wants to get the word out. I’ll ask them how the response has been to their book since it’s been released.

They’ll retort: “I’m getting lots of positive comments on the book.”

That is standard, but just once I’d like to get this answer back from a new author: “People think the book is lousy and a waste of time.”

When you hear the same answers over and over again it makes you yearn to interview those loose cannons out there. When I get those types for a sit-down interview, I strap myself in and enjoy the ride because you never know where it’s going to go.

In these days of the same, boring predictable answers, the unpredictable tend to stand out that much more.

Reporter Andrew Potter is a Tuesday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or