You’ve likely participated in some sort of Q+A online, whether it’s with your favorite influencer or a professional you’re interested in working with or an expert you really want guidance from. You know the drill: Submit your question and look for a response. Often, though, it seems like disappointment follows. I’ve been there; it can sometimes feel like the answer I get and the feelings I feel as a result don’t match my expectations. Here are a few things I’ve learned to keep in mind when engaging with free Q+A’s:
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Free online Q+A’s cannot give you what therapy, coaching, support groups, books, podcasts, and lived experience can. Not even close. I have a therapist, a business coach, a business mastermind, a consultation group, a couple dozen favorite podcasts, and approximately one thousand favorite books, plus my beloved friends and family. All of that in addition to some wonderful IG accounts that sometimes answer questions for me. You need your own combo; I frequently recommend that my clients join groups, read books, listen to podcasts, and follow other mental health professionals in addition to working with me. I can’t be everything to my clients, and my Q+A’s cannot be everything to my followers.
- Treat the person providing the answer to your question like, well, a person. Use my name. Say please and thank you. Include a heart emoji. This isn’t about ego-stroking or manipulation; this is about acknowledging the simple reality that there is a human behind the answers you’re being given. I am much more likely to answer your question and answer it generously if I am being treated like a person; it’s just human nature. It’s also good boundaries, which I am committed to modeling for you all.
- Actually take their ideas to heart; give the advice a real try. I remember reaching out to a dietician on Instagram when I was in the beginning stages of quitting diet culture; I asked her something about wanting to lose weight for “health” reasons, and she responded by recommending I read Intuitive Eating. So I read the book, and the rest is history. When my answer to your question includes a recommendation, actually taking me up on the recommendation is a huge factor in whether or not your question is actually answered. I never would have learned that weight loss and improved health have very little to do with each other if I hadn’t read the book the dietician recommended to me via an Instagram dm.
What would you add? What has worked for you and made free Q+A’s helpful in the past? I’d love to hear!