This Is the Most UNhelpful Phrase on the Planet

This Is the Most UNhelpful Phrase on the Planet

It’s up to you. You can do whatever what you want.”

No sh*t, Sherlock. OF COURSE, I can do whatever I want.

What I was looking for were your opinions, advice, ideas and feedback… or I wouldn’t have bothered asking.


When someone (particularly a client) asks for your input, they are looking for your personal thoughts, guidance and experience.

Why do you think they should (or shouldn’t) do something a certain way? What will they gain? What are the ramifications of going another route? What might be the hidden costs, issues or benefits?

Step up. You’re the expert. They’re looking for you to lead them, to help them.

It’s up to you” is a lazy cop-out.


It’s easy to sit back and wait to be told what to do. But those aren’t the people who create value, turn clients into raving fans — and make the big bucks.

Can you think of an example where you stepped up for a client when it would have been easier to just let them wander in circles by themselves?

6 Responses

  1. Jacky Hodges says:

    In corporate land you would get a coach, they would ask you a question and expect you to know the answer… the reason I needed a coach was because I needed help finding the answer!

  2. Exactly! If you had all the answers and knew what you didn’t know, you wouldn’t be asking in the first place.

    To clarify for others, the context I’m referring to is more between business and customer/client, or even between colleagues or mentor to colleague.

    The thought was sparked from an exchange I had with a vendor where I kept going in circles in my own mind and having difficulty switching to a new way of doing things (because it required a whole new way of thinking of things).

    The person I got on the line, their response was “You can do it whatever way you like.” Well, if I knew what way I wanted to do it, I wouldn’t be asking you for guidance, now would I? I don’t know what I don’t know so I don’t know how I want to do, what way would be best given my objectives.

    It’s the same for our clients. As administrative experts, they aren’t paying us to sit around waiting to be told what to do. We need to have real guidance and answers for them, to give our opinions, advice and expertise when asked or where we see that it will be helpful.

    This is why it’s infinitely more helpful to them to approach things as a consultant, someone who will think independently and ask more probing questions to glean more insight into what their goals and objectives are so we can offer our best insight, advice and ideas.

  3. Great article Danielle! Sometimes I think we can be afraid of offending, but being more confident with what we bring to the table will, in the long run, be of greater benefit to our clients.

  4. Thanks, Suzanne. 🙂

    That’s great self-talk and mindset!

  5. I agree great article. Although, I think a lot depends on the client. I had one once who knew everything, would ask what I thought, I’d answer and would be told “no, I want it done this way”. Then get told “I need you to give me ideas but you don’t”. What I found interesting was a couple of months down the track my suggestion being made to me as theirs and asked “why didn’t you think of that!” Admittedly not all clients are this hard-nosed and do appreciate another perspective of a situation or way of doing things. Another thanked me for coming up with a more efficient and effective way of doing things.

  6. Yeah, that would be kinda annoying. 🙂

    You are right, it does depend on the client. Of course, we have to remember that there’s no law that says we have to keep working with a client like that.

    My rule of thumb is that if a client becomes annoying and doesn’t value, appreciate or give me credit for my input and contributions, they are not a good fit because I can’t do my best work for someone like that and we shouldn’t be working together.

    That’s when we have a heart-to-heart to see what’s going on, where their resistance is coming from, what is preventing them from getting the most from our work together and how we might rectify that (like helping them get out of their own way) so we get back on track. Sometimes, though, we just plain aren’t right for each other personality or workstyle wise. When that’s the case, the only option is to let them go.

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