When you are asked to recommend something – such as a book, a restaurant or an activity – it is tempting to jump in and answer with your favorite item in that category, but that is the wrong approach.

A concierge taught me that the correct answer to such questions is: “What are you looking for?” It is simple, yet brilliant.

> If you ask: “What are you looking for?” you can learn that a person wants either a quick bite to eat or a fancy meal – so your initial thought to recommend your favorite moderate restaurant is not appropriate for either.

> Knowing that someone wants a light romance novel or a romantic comedy movie shifts you away from suggesting the 800-page Hamilton book or Hacksaw Ridge movie even though both were excellent.

> If you learn that someone wants a stylist that is quick or inexpensive, it guides your answer to become much more helpful than giving the name of a professional who is costly and meticulously slow.

Whether providing recommendations for a realtor, candidate, store, contractor or neighborhood, the answer depends significantly on what the questioner is seeking.

No matter on what topic your advice is being solicited, one simple question can provide the clarification that makes your response both relevant and responsive. To provide the best service, reply to the next query with a question instead of an answer.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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