Question your way up and surface the answer

We hate being told what to do. We hate being told what to think.

So what’s the best way to change a preconceived idea? How can you convince someone without trying to force them into joining your line of thought?

Chris Do says we need to “surface the answer”.

When we are confronted with our own problems, we usually need some kind of outside opinion. A second point of view that provides us an external perspective. Unconsciously what we are searching for is to validate our own opinion. If the feedback is not in line with our biased assumption, we tend to undermine it. Why? Because we hate being told what to do. We hate being told what to think.

As creatives, when dealing with clients and trying to understand their challenges, finding the proper solution and agreeing on the right path is by itself a challenge. The client already knows the answer but needs help to see it clearly. We should not deliver the answer, we should help to surface it.

How should we do that? Asking the right questions. Listening. Asking more questions. Listening. Doing it again. And again…

In a recent Discovery & Strategy Call, while trying to understand how her personal brand as a Nutritionist should be perceived by her ideal clients, I asked Maria Lains what kind of message the brand should convey and she answered “Competence. Trust. Knowledge.”

Had I settled for that, I would be designing a Nutritionist’s brand based on traits that could be used to describe a Lawyer’s office. That was not the answer, so I kept asking.

Bernardo: “How should they feel when they look at the brand and think of you as a Nutritionist?”

Maria: “They should think about health and well-being.”

Bernardo: “Why do your potential clients search for a Nutritionist and why do they hire you?”

Maria: “It has to make sense to them. They want to improve, they need to go through an inner process and they need help to do it. But sometimes it is a hard step for them to take.”

Bernardo: “What do they fear about going to the Nutritionist? Why would they avoid it?”

Maria: “They see it as a restriction. But changing doesn’t mean they have to stop living.”


Bernardo: “How do you wish they feel when they seek your help? What would win in their minds against the idea of constraint and hardship?”

Maria: “They should feel positive vibes, tranquility, happiness, vitality and fullness.”

That’s how we surfaced “Positivity”, “Vitality” and “Fullness” instead of “Competence”, “Knowledge” or “Trust”. That’s how we positioned the Nutritionist further away from Lawyer and closer to concepts related to Yoga and Meditation, curiously activities Maria Lains practices and encourages. She already knew the answers but needed help to see it clearly.

That’s how I helped her get clarity. That’s how we surfaced the answer.

“I don’t sell you my idea. I sell you your idea. I’m going to keep asking you more and more questions, so you get clarity.”

(Chris Do)

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