“What if someone finds out I’m not supposed to be here?!” my inner voice whispered during my first Flawless Consulting workshop. Even my job title as a consultant couldn’t convince me I belonged. The problem was that I judged my value based on others’ perceptions rather than my own. If your inner imposter insists, “I’m not a consultant,” consider these choices:
Put into words what you are experiencing in alignment with what you value. Being authentic with a client who has solutions of their own and expects you to follow their instructions may sound like, “I’m reluctant to support a solution when I’ve not been personally involved in the diagnosis of the problem.” This simple direct statement rebalances the consultant-client relationship.
Assume good intentions and give clients the benefit of the doubt. Acknowledge that what the client is doing makes perfect sense to them. Care about their feelings. Instead of standing across from a client whose lack of commitment stems from concerns of losing control and getting hurt, stand with them: “Starting a project like this takes some risks on your part, and I appreciate your willingness to take that risk with me.”
Elicit the client’s expectations of you. Clearly and simply state what you want from the client. “What do you want from me? Here’s what I want from you.” This is in the interest of making sure the project is successful, as you cannot receive what you do not ask for. “I want you to consider what role you need to play to bring about desired changes and how you may be contributing to the problem.” This affirms that you trust yourself to know what is required for you to be successful and gives your client something to trust.
Whatever’s missing in a situation is that which you can provide. You go first! Our hope that others will learn and change is best realized through our behaviors of what’s possible. “What concerns do you have about our working together?” “Here’s what you’ve done that has been useful…” This tells our clients it’s okay to show us their warts and wrinkles and teaches them how to work with us.
Instead of solving problems for clients, apply your special skills to help clients solve problems themselves. The distinction is significant. Differentiate between the presenting problem and the underlying problem by understanding how the problem is being managed. Help clients make good decisions by focusing on where they have the most influence – themselves! Enable them to discover the extent of choice and freedom in their lives that they didn’t know they had.
If you’re still unsure if consulting is what you do, consider that every time you give advice to someone who is in the position to make the choice, you are consulting. Being a consultant depends less on your title and more on your choices. As consultants, we often feel choiceless. By opting for humanity in the “flawless” choices above, we enhance our influence and leverage our expertise. How’s that for experiencing more choice?!
Article by JP Tier