Don’t Tell Me You’re Fine

September 15, 2010by Jeane Kropp

Don’t Tell Me You’re Fine: A Lesson in Thinking

If I say ‘spiders,’ I bet your first thought is something along the lines of ‘eek.’ And ‘sunrise?’ Surely you think either ‘beautiful’ or ‘cool.’ Take note: those reactions are judgments and nothing more.

As humans, we’re taught to judge more than we’re taught to describe. This predisposition to judge reduces our ability to think, perceive and ask why.

As marketers, we need to use our describe-things muscles rather than our judge-things muscles. We need to teach others how to think, not what to think. How to think is a lifelong skill with infinite benefits. What to think is a dead-end that stymies curiosity.

So what to do?

  • When your team members ask you what you think about something, request that they answer the question first.  This takes a fair amount of self-control. Try it a few times just for fun.
  • When someone says they don’t like X, ask for 10 words or phrases that represent or depict the disliked item or idea before digging into the rationale for their dislike.
  • Try my own, should be patented/trademarked/registered Big Words game (I’ll ask for the royalties later). We’ve played it with our Little Brother and yes, sometimes he references the game title with a sneer. Start with a simple word—let’s use ‘glass’ as an example. Go around the table asking each person to add another word or phrase that can be used to characterize glass or is related to the concept of glass. This might lead to a list of words including crystal, transparent, water carrier, vessel, breakable, cylindrical, decanter and mug.  Pretty impressive, huh?! It caused us to think about glass, not judge glass.

So with all this in mind, the next time someone asks you how you are, be sure to respond with ‘sunny, delightful, and verbose’ rather than ‘fine.’

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