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#987: How to Know What People Think vs What They Say

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, February 16, 2009
Updated: Monday, February 16, 2009
I am a trusting person but I know there are times a client says one thing and really thinks something else. How do I know what a prospect or client is really thinking?

Consulting is a relationship business. We sell our services. We need to read people and organizational cultures as part of our diagnosis. In the end, we want to communicate our findings and convince clients of our recommendations. In all these interactions, our ability to understand what people think and feel is critical. We can't always relay on what they say to fully gauge where they stand.

Psychologists and criminal profilers have developed a body of knowledge of how to read people. The value of these skills for consultants is not about uncovering whether someone is telling the truth as much as it is about better understanding their level of interest, willingness to work with you, the effort they will put in on your behalf, and how their mood might relate to acceptance of your recommendations.

Tip: Look through some books such as David Lieberman's You Can Read Anyone. Lieberman tells how you can use techniques of observing pupil dilation, reaction to your level of confidence, attention paid to different parts of your proposal, tests of loyalty, and knowing how much influence a person really has on decisions that affect your interests. These are not the same insights as those found in books on "sales techniques" or "how to close sales." A small investment in time to see people as they are rather than as they say will more than pay itself back in faster decisions and less wasted time.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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