No joke: sometimes it’s really hard to just tell the truth. I’ve been there many times before.
For example, you’re a professional, whether that’s accountant, attorney, or management consultant, and your client wants the wrong thing. Customers might always be right, but clients aren’t. And when clients are wrong, you have a tough problem, because it’s no fun to contradict a client, but if you don’t respect your professional expertise then you’re essentially worthless. Few people actually pay for bad advice on purpose.
Or, as another example, you’re on a job as a functional expert, and your boss wants to do something related to your area against your better judgment. Do you say so? Yes, you almost have to, because otherwise, just like the professional expert, you’re long-term useless.
There’s no doubt that these can be hard moments. And you know it happens sometimes. Maybe more than we’d like to admit. I had the experience often as a consultant. I know the feeling of the lump in your throat, thinking it through, you want the consulting job.
Behind the scenes, it’s really an intelligence test for the boss and the client. Do they have the sense to listen to somebody else’s expertise? I don’t know about you, but the people I’ve dealt with who knew everything actually just didn’t know what they didn’t know, and they were worse off for it. And so were their businesses.
So point one: tell the truth. It might be hard on the short term, but it’s way better on the long term. Just remind yourself, the truth is better for your client, better for your boss, and better for the organization.
And point two: do it right. Do it respectfully, and privately, and with a mind open for discovering why in fact the client or boss has considered some other angle you haven’t thought of. Never say no to a chance to learn something new.
(Photo credit: Stephen Aaron Rees/Shutterstock)