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#584: Guard Against Negativity

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, June 09, 2011
Updated: Thursday, June 09, 2011
There are times when we will have to disagree with a client. However, if we are retained as providing independent and objective advice, at what point does disagreement get to be an adversarial relationship instead of a supporting one?

Disagreeing with a client on a particular issue is usually okay. Constantly being perceived as being "negative” is not. And if you are not careful, expressing your differences of opinion can quickly become viewed as a general character of negativity on your part. The last thing you want to happen is to be identified by your client as is a person who exudes negativity that begins to erode trust.

So, what can you do about this? Recognize that initial negative thoughts about ideas can often be recast in a positive and productive way or can be resolved by simply seeking further understanding. A client staff member says something that you initially don't agree with. Instead of reacting negatively, try stating "I am not sure if I understand the rationale behind that. Could you elaborate further? I want to be sure we are considering the same assumptions." Or try "I understand your reasoning behind that, but can I give you another variable to factor into your thinking?" Or you might even try, "Let me share my thoughts with you on this issue and let’s see where and why our thinking might differ." Always consider that you may not be seeing the same system they are, have all the same facts, or weight the importance of various factors the same as they do.

Tip: When you have a negative thought, avoid outwardly communicating this negativity to your client. Instead, seek a better understanding of their point of view and provide recognition of its validity. The value to a client of your independence and objectivity rests on their retaining their trust of you. Don't let a perception of a negative personality (whether justified or not) ruin that trust.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  customer understanding  goodwill  professionalism 

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