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How to Answer Nosy Questions with One Simple Answer

Are you constantly getting badgered by folks who want to know your secret sauce recipe? Is your greatest fear not from success but from those who envy your moxie and want to do exactly what you do? Yikes!

How do we respond happily without sounding defensive or worse, bitchy?

If having your wares out in the open for public scrutiny leaves you cold, I’ve got a few tips for you to help address little Ms. HowDidYouDoThat with savvy.

Currently, I’m looking for some space downtown that is in the public domain. And it’s about time. I’ve always wanted a workshop/store that would allow me to interact with customers to get their input on my designs so that I can make them better. After all, money is the blood of business, right?

However, there can be a dark side to having your wares out in the open for public scrutiny. I will get those who want to come in and fondle, examine, and really dig into the pieces that I make –and that just leaves me cold. I don’t want my pieces ruined for the real customer who wants to come in and buy. It’s like testing a brand new lipstick at the counter and then leaving it for the next person to accidentally purchase. Ick!

Ms. HowDidYouDoThat?

So, what do you say in response when you’re asked by Ms. HowDidYouDoThat specific technique (aka secret sauce) questions? It’s one thing to be curious, and it’s another thing to pry.

Here is a great quote by Einstein that I found today that answers my nagging fear with aplomb. If you’re ever asked in detail how you do something, say this with a smile:

Quote this and smile. Rinse and repeat if necessary. 🙂

Sometimes, they don’t even know they’ve wandered into your secret sauce vault. So, err on the side of ignorance and be gentle.

When They Try to Deconstruct Infront of Customers

This gets sticky and I’ve thought about this one quite a bit. Some folks are about the pure curiosity on how things get done. We definitely are. We walk shows like ICFF just to gain inspiration. And by inspiration I mean pure, unadulterated fun that only comes from the best, brightest, and still have change in their pocket to exhibit. I’m not talking about going and ripping off ideas. It’s about where design is going and how they got there.

Often, I’ll find myself saying, “Wow. That’s cool you guys! I’m so happy for you.” Not, “How did you code that iphone app to get your lights to flicker and undulate.” or “How do you bend wood.” or “Where do you buy your components.” That’s not cool.

My best answer to those who feel the urge to continue to deconstruct your work infront of others is this,

“Please stop. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t try to deconstruct my work infront of my customers, this ruins the magic for them.”

In this case, it’s usually 2 people who are playing off each other -almost like good cop, bad cop. After I’ve said this, the one that feels most uncomfortable with her partner’s cross-examination will feel empowered to quiet him down.

When They Ask Where You Purchase Your Supplies

My best answer to those who feel the urge to continue asking where you buy your supplies is to make it general and then follow it with consequences if you should expose the truth.

“We do our best to buy and support companies in the USA” followed with “I’ve been sworn to secrecy.” Placing your hand next to your mouth as though you’re telling a secret, “My boss would kill me!”

If she really needles you with more questions, you can imply:

“If you’re really interested in starting your own line, I’m sure you can find what you need in the forums.”

If they keep prying and you’re forced to continue, you can use:

“We’ve done our research to match our customer’s tastes. As you know we all have to do our homework and there are no shortcuts to success. I hope you’ll appreciate the hours of blood. sweat, and tears we’ve poured into this to make it happen.”

It’s a gradual process of informing the meddler that you’re not willing to allow her to weaken your fortress with a Q&A wrecking ball.

Protect What You Love

My favorite explorer Jacques Cousteau states, “People protect what they love.”

If you love your business, then you will protect it. Keep your hardwork close to the vest because a combination of supplies, techniques, and vision are all apart of your life’s blood. If you don’t have money coming in, then you have no business.

One of my favorite lines of all time when someone asks how I did something, I simply say,

“With magic.”

This usually stops them and laughter erupts. My real customers get it and the wrecking balls get upset. Because as Jim Carrey states, “If you’ve got talent, protect it.”

Here’s to Cultivating Your Creative Independence

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Lisa, CREATIVEGoddess
Lisa Stewart is the founder of IndieCreatives™, Coaching and Strategy for Creative Entrepreneurs. Lisa is dedicated to helping galleries & artists expand their knowledge in creative branding.

One Response to “How to Answer Nosy Questions with One Simple Answer”

  1. Dabanga says:

    Thank you for the “magical” answers to all those annoying and sometimes unprofessional questions.

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