Be the Consultant Your Clients Want to Mirror

by | Nov 19, 2019

O ver the last several years buzz words like authenticity, compassion, courage, empathy, and kindness have all made their way into thought leadership blogs and articles. The premise is that leaders who demonstrate these characteristics are more likely to be successful and have better team and organizational outcomes. At the foundation of these ideas is the fact that none of us want to work for or with people who do not demonstrate these and other basic characteristics for effective human interaction. There is something that draws us to others who engage with us in the same way that we would want to ideally engage with others. This is one of the underlying components of Flawless Consulting. As an internal or external consultant, we have to engage with our clients in an authentic, courageous, wholehearted way. This, in turn, creates the environment for our clients to engage with us in that same way.

I love neuroscience, and when I saw that there was actually a scientific term for this, I was intrigued. It is called mirror neuron activation. Mirror neurons are cells in our brains that react to external stimuli that promote mirroring behavior or emotions. A familiar example of mirror neuron activation is when we smile at others, who in turn smile back at us.

Our behaviors and emotions are contagious.

As internal and external consultants, we set the tone for the interaction. It is our willingness to be authentic, speak to the truth, and hold ourselves and others accountable for executing promises that set the tone for what is expected in the consulting relationship. We cannot ask for what we ourselves are not willing to give. As consultants, we have to be mindful of what we bring to the consulting table for our clients to mirror. Are we bringing authenticity, courage, and trust—and thus mirroring these behaviors in our interactions with our clients? Or are we bringing our hidden agendas, self-interest, and airs of cleverness to the conversation?  As internal and external consultants, we set the tone for the interaction. It is our willingness to be authentic, speak to the truth, and hold ourselves and others accountable for executing promises that set the tone for what is expected in the consulting relationship. We cannot ask for what we ourselves are not willing to give. As consultants, we have to be mindful of what we bring to the consulting table for our clients to mirror. Are we bringing authenticity, courage, and trust—and thus mirroring these behaviors in our interactions with our clients? Or are we bringing our hidden agendas, self-interest, and airs of cleverness to the conversation?  

Before your next engagement with a client, take a movement to check your mirror. Ask yourself the following questions to see what you might be mirroring:

  • How am I feeling about this meeting, this client, and this interaction?

  • What is my purpose for engaging with this client? Is it to be helpful, or to push my agenda?

  • What underlying thoughts or emotions might get in the way of us having a successful meeting?

  • What do I need to do in order to help me to build trust with my client and show up authentically?

  • What do I need to put aside or acknowledge mentally or emotionally in order to be fully present for this meeting?

Carolon Donnally

Carolon Donnally

Consultant

Carolon Donnally joined Designed Learning  as a consultant in 2019. She has over 13 years of experience in the federal government and 5 years of experience in banking. Most of her focus has been in leadership  development, organizational development, curriculum design and executive coaching. She led the internal coaching program for one of largest agencies in the U.S. government.  In addition, she has developed and delivered an all virtual internal coaching certification program and created a coaching skills training program for a 2,500 person organization.

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