What Should I Do to Best Help YOU?
Should I Shout My Business Advice?
Should I Argue With You About How You Choose to Settle a Business Dispute?
A client who never took my advice, despite my every prediction of troubles ahead coming true, told me that I need to be more forceful. “Shout at us if necessary,” he said. That isn’t my job. That sounded a bit like pushing the responsibility off onto my shoulders. I think of that comment often because I want to help when I see a clear path to “better” but know I cannot control what my client will do. Here’s my dilema. My clients are often under a lot of stress and you know that stress makes it nearly impossible to think clearly. Clients call me because they want the dispute or the rough patch in their business to be over with. No disagreement on that.
Knowing that stress makes it very hard to patiently talk through different courses of action, I try to make things as clear as possible. Sometimes my clients are so stressed that they insist on the shortest though most risky and costly path out of their problem. That makes thing tough. Knowing there is a better option but facing rejection from the client, I always agree to provide the best guidance no matter what my client decides to do. My job is to help work through problems by proposing as many different possibly answers I can come up with while always looking for ways to improve the deal for you, my client. If you choose a course that I don’t like, I will still go over the falls in the barrel with you even if I could see a way to reach shore without going over. Am I wrong?
I struggle with that. But not too much and here’s why. Ultimately, the client will have to live with the decision he makes. My job is to advise, not govern. If hired to manage the business, I will do so and make decisions in the best interest of the business. It does tug at me knowing that stress is driving my clients’ decisions.
This is how I handle it. I’ll recommend a course of action. If the client says, “No, I just want it this over with,” I will propose my recommendation again. Then I will recommend taking 24 hours to think. It is never a good idea to make a big decision, particularly one that goes against professional advice, in a snap moment. I will submit something in writing during that time so my client can hopefully see through the fog and grasp the lifeline. Three times I’ll try to guide the course. After that it’s better to support the client unless she chooses an unlawful or very self-destructive course. Advise and support.
It’s tough sometimes but I love what I do. It’s great knowing that someone has saved a lot of money. It’s rewarding to know that a business will continue because a fracture was healed.
I can’t end this post without offering you some advice. Always act quickly when a problem breaks out. Don’t be like the guy trying to put out a fire alone only to have it get away before the fire department can save the house. And when you hire advisers, listen to them. You don’t have to do everything they say, but listen. Clients often improve upon my suggestions. That’s fantastic. That means we are working together. Just don’t expect me to argue with you about the choices you make.
Chris Reich, TeachU
I know business can be very, very stressful. I will try to reduce your stress as much as I can. Even though the final decisions are yours, you will have my support regardless of the direction you choose.