Consider the following questions…

What do you think of Mr. Obama?

What is your strategy to hold against competition?

How much investment would you require for your business?

What books do you recommend for an upcoming business person?

What do you think of Seth Godin’s blog?

What colors do you like?

How is your Nokia Lumia?

wikipediaWhen you are posed a question of any nature (as the above list), what do you do? Do you (also) present a strictly borrowed answer, and convince (self!) that it’s your voice. Your feeling. Your opinion. Your take!?

I’ve observed people give out ‘spec’-tacular responses when asked about a product they are using. VAIO, Galaxy, Bravia, i20… Most people “read out” lines borrowed from the brochure or a review site or an interview. Only specs! Where’s the opinion? Where’s your story?

Forget personal questions, even professionals exhibit this behavior, spreading the fever as the norm. Soon, you realize that strategies, “concepts”, ideas, PowerPoint bullet points, investment breakup, taglines, marketing material – almost everything that are so-called assets of thought-leaders – everything is borrowed. You instantly understand that the moment you dig a little deeper, the shallow, defensive approach is clear.

Many people seldom make notes on their understanding of the subject, when in a classroom or a seminar. They jot down interesting “pick up lines” that can sound impressive to the people they would voice it out too. Without crediting the source, of course! Words and lines have become the anchor, sadly. And if a person can manage to store many words and lines, s/he becomes knowledgeable and smart!? If you’re able to humanize your references, give it your spin when asked for, it’s great.

If I need Wikipedia’s facts and figures about a topic, I will do that. If I need a commercialized media review about an automobile, I will go to TopGear. Rotten Tomatoes for movies. Yahoo! for weather. The list goes on. But if I’m asking you about how a mango tastes, I don’t want to hear it tastes ‘sweet’ and ‘sour’; I want to hear how it tastes to you? Your true emotions, not a dictionary reference!

Here’s the irony…

The same people, when asked to recite a song, or recollect a real incident or state some factual information, they fluctuate. Instead of now, going with reference material or direct borrowing of exact pieces, they present distorted data under the guise of their interpretation, memory, feeling. No thanks – a joke is best translated and laughed at in its original form. A fable and its moral loses impact if there’s unknown customization.

Dig the question, not the response!

Vishal Mehta

Vishal Mehta

Vishal Mehta is a usability professional who loves to play chess and has a strong eye for details. He's also the CEO of IDYeah Creations, a UX practice in Pune, India. Vishal is also a guest blogger on UXBooth, Technorati, BlogCritics, and SAP Community Network.

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