The importance of asking questions and keeping an open mind

19th August 2020

The importance of asking questions and keeping an open mind

Put up a well-washed hand if you’ve been involved in any of these ‘challenges’ recently. These have been flooding Facebook recently and have been both interesting to watch as well as participate in.

At first, it appeared to be an exercise in demonstrating your superb taste or knowledge of music, books, movies or films. But I began to notice something else, and it was more about my perceptions than the person who was sharing. I noticed I made assumptions, generalisations and had prejudices. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a person by their favourite books, movies or album choices. Or so I  foolishly thought. At first I was surprised then I was fascinated with people’s choices. My mate Col was moving along relatively predictably with To Kill A Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies and Don Quixote then he chose a Little Golden Book – The Jungle Book. He was absolutely serious. He loved that book. Unexpected, unpredictable and fascinating.

It just proved how diverse, random and unpredictable we humans are. This thinking can be translated to our business and our relationship with our colleagues and our clients. We all have varied tastes and experiences. Making assumptions or putting people in a box, as I found out, deprives us of a chance to know and understand them better. That has to be great for business and life in general.

For example, just because they zigged with the last campaign, maybe this time they’ll zag on this occasion. Just like going from classic David Bowie to Abba in your album cover challenge. Or following To Kill a Mockingbird with a Little Golden Book like Col did. It’s about listening and keeping an open mind.

Yes, people are unpredictable. But we love to share their opinion and if we listen and ask lots of questions, the result will always be better. Just like the Facebook lists, if we are a little more creative and in depth in our contact and communication, we get richer information back. Maybe this thinking could be applied to our briefs, finding ways to dig deeper for the unexpected or something fresh.

– Jeff Smith, Senior Creative