Questions Build Trust for Consultants

A consulting opportunity can be exciting, fulfilling, but it can also provide anxiety and uncertainty for both the client and the consultant. Initially it is necessary to establish the objectives, in other words, why is the consultant being brought into the picture? This task of clarifying should be orchestrated by the consultant for two reasons: first, the consultant is not emotionally attached to the situation, allowing him to see information objectively, and second, the success of the client’s experience with the consultant rests on this clarification (Sperry, 1993). The consultant has no power to make changes and implement programs, so it is important that the consultant has a clear understanding of the objectives in order to serve the client effectively with clear solutions (Block, 2011).

For this writer, there is a tendency to go straight at the problem, but experience has revealed there is a relational need that must be met upfront that will increase receptivity when solutions are presented later (Block, 1999). It is for this reason, this writer’s practice has implemented an extensive period of asking questions right at the beginning, often before a commitment from either party is given. When the consultant is brought in, the client has already decided there is a need for an outside perspective, and change is a probable outcome, however this does not indicate the client is open to accepting change (Block, 2001). Through a period of asking questions, the consultant takes the posture of a learner and allows the client to reveal, or teach, about the problem; all the while, the questions allow the consultant to guide the conversation in a discovery of the true problems the client is often unaware of (Block, 2001). This period builds trust and a team mindset between the client and consultant.

References

Block, P. (2011). Flawless consulting: a guide to getting your expertise used (3rd ed). San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Sperry, L. (1993). Working with executives: Consulting, counseling, and coaching. Individual Psychology: The Journal of Adlerian Theory, Research & Practice, 49(2), 257.


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