“anything you say can and will be held against you…“

those are some important words of warning to heed if you’re being arrested… or a consultant.

as client-facing staff, it’s hard to balance honesty, integrity, and some good old-fashioned self preservation. during the meeting i referenced in my previous post, a senior associate shared with me a lesson that i learned all too well earlier this evening on the day this post was authored: give the least amount of information you can, then move on.

__it’s rather contrary to what you feel would be good client service. you want them to have information; the more information that they have the better their decisions will be. if something is broken, you want to tell them it’s broken, and it’s certainly only fair that you share such knowledge if the client asks the question first. not to mention, we’re always told that withholding information about a subject is the same as lying about it. nobody wants to be a liar.

the thing is, when you provide information, people will find whatever problems they can with that information — and therefore problems with you. there are people (who may even be internal to your organization) that will look for the slightest fault with your presentations, your emails, your meeting minutes… anything — then, they’ll jump on that fault. this much is true: your words will be twisted. someone will take a quote of yours out of context. someone may even use information that you feel is beneficial to their understanding of a situation and turn that information into a vehicle for pushing their own agenda.

aesop had a fable, the eagle and the arrow:

An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. “Alas!” it cried, as it died,

“We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.”

don’t make your job any more difficult than it already is. when it comes to conversations with the client, keep it simple, stupid! less is more gooder.

remember that as a consultant, what you say can and will be held against you. always.