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#250: Beware Careful When Using the Word "New"

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, February 26, 2010
Lots of consultants describe their recommendations as "new" hoping to draw a distinction between the "old" way of doing things and the "improved" way. As mentioned in an earlier tip, be sensitive in selecting your words as they can sometimes have unforeseen negative consequences.

Unless the organization you are working with is about to go out of business, the word "new" can be interpreted as a criticism of what was previously put in place (i.e., what got them where they are now was "old" or "conventional" practices). As a client, I am not looking to simply discard what I've spent years developing. I am looking to build on it and improve. The word "new" can suggest that the client has been using the wrong approach up until now. It can suggest wasted opportunities and poor management. It also set up the client’s expectations for a significant change (and the impact of such a change on the It may even signify to the client that you can't understand their organization). In most cases, the client is seeking solutions with the least effort, quickest implementation, least impact and lowest risk to the organization. Therefore, be careful when you classify your recommendations as new, dramatically different, or as a total overhaul.

Tip: Instead, validate their previous accomplishments and innovations, and emphasize how your suggestions will improve on their existing process. Always remember that words matter!

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  communication  consulting terminology  customer understanding 

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