I participate in a group chat with some of my overseas cousins and woke up to a conversation this morning about “nutrition.” I use that term loosely because, as you know, everyone is an “expert.”

One cousin asked if she should try some program du jour that was making the rounds in Australia. Everyone immediately jumped in with “You should do . . . instead.” Recommendations were flying but something major was missing. No one asked what her goal was. No one knew if she was trying to lose weight or develop healthier eating habits. No one knew if she wanted to get lean or eat clean. They just knew they had an answer to a question that hadn’t been asked.

It all reminded me that we tend to rush to provide advice because we think we’re being helpful. But in reality, it’s self-serving. We don’t care what someone’s needs actually are; we just care that our voice is heard. Taking an extra moment to learn about that person’s goals can change the advice we give.

This applies to clients as well. They say they want a social media presence, so we build one. They say they need an e-blast, so we create one. They say they need a website, so we develop one. How often are we taking the time to ask what their goals are first? Are we giving answers to a question that was never asked? Maybe it’s time to start asking “why” instead of answering with “here you go.”

Account director Nadia Zerka loves to give unsolicited advice and is learning to ask “why” first.

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