How To Answer ‘One Quick Question’…To People Who Aren’t Your Client

Someone on Wikipedia has an entertaining definition of quick question:

A very deceiving word that actually means the question itself will be lengthy mundane subject matter …not even requiring an answer but more of an editorial.

Keith let me ask you a quick question? What do you think of that blah blah dress blah blah Britney blah blah …can you actually believe that blah blah  

When you’re in the business of providing services, ‘one quick question’ – anywhere, anytime – is just a part of life. And that’s totally cool! I get it; it’s easy, convenient, and doesn’t cost anything to answer. You create goodwill by doing so, and might even get a new customer out of it.

But does it allow you to put your best face forward?

In this post, I’ll share what helps me answer with as much kindness as possible, without feeling like I’m back in the office. 


Environment Matters

We all want to do a good job in our trade, whether we’re realtors or dentists. Good work environments set us up for success. It’d be hard for a realtor to go through all the paperwork with a client when breastfeeding at the same moment, toddlers screaming for her attention.

The same goes as a personal trainer.

I can’t tell you how many ‘cringe worthy’, sloppy answers that I’ve given to people at the grocery store or by text message late at night. It’s been quite embarrassing actually, and that’s not very good for my confidence. CONFIDENCE is one of the most valuable things an entrepreneur can have.

Of course, all trainers should walk their talk and live by the healthy values that they’re teaching. Yet if you catch us with our gloves off, you’ll not get the answers that our expertise is capable of giving you. 

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

‘One quick question’ is nothing new.

It’s not coming at me because I’m especially helpful or smart. People aren’t usually looking for answers, they’re looking for a way to connect with me. That’s really nice, and I truly appreciate that.

As there’s a code of ethics with fitness professionals that we’re not actually allowed to give advice to people until they’ve signed a waiver, dancing delicately is essential. Usually I repeat what they’ve said in a complimentary way, and add a question onto the end of the boost.

Person: “Hey Cat, I went for a walk around the golf course yesterday! Should I start running it now?” 

Me: “That’s great Jess! What do you think, do you feel ready?”

Person: “Well I’m not sure, maybe I’ll try.”

Me: “It’s such a nice route, do you go early in the morning? By the way, I love your dress!”

Deflection, followed by a compliment – boom! Now she’ll go on to tell me where she got it, and then the small talk window will pass. My friend will be back from the bathroom and we’ll be able to continue our game of tennis.

From experience, answers that I give outside of work are 99% of the time dismissed, disputed or forgotten. Even if the answer that I give them is the same answer that my clients have paid for.  

Be Generous On Social Media

Creating content for social media is a really helpful way to channel people’s quick questions.

While it’s important to not step outside your professional realm of things, sharing your time to support and motivate followers is essential.

You’ll find that with a quality facebook page or youtube channel, peoples questions when you’re out-and-about in town will mostly be related to content you’ve already posted. It’s quite fun to talk about that.

Knowing When You Need A Break

With age comes wisdom, and we learn to hold our space as social skills develop. It’s important to have other interests ready to talk about, funny stories and things to keep the conversation flowing without your (obvious) commonality. It’s nice to be able to listen without feeling obliged to contribute something useful or helpful. haha 🙂

Cat Smiley

Cat Smiley has been named Canada’s top trainer 3 times by the International Sports Science Association. She is a certified Master Trainer of Fitness Sciences (ISSA), Life Coach, Nutritionist, Executive Business Coach and the owner of Whistler Fitness Vacations. Prior to that, she spent 10 years building her personal training and boot camp company - while also working as a professional athlete and nationally syndicated health columnist. She inevitably hit burnout and learnt a ton of lessons along the way. is a mash-up of all the things she did to keep her passion for fitness training alive, almost 20 years later. - Find my site helpful? Please mention Whistler Fitness Vacations to your personal training clients if they ask you about fitness retreats! It really helps (and I really appreciate it!)