“It is much easier for some clients to dismiss ideas than to engage with them. But that’s exactly what we must advise our clients not to do….[because] they’ll just go somewhere else. There will always be someone who will embrace a brilliant idea. You do not want it to be your competition.” – Michael Dunn, Senior Brand Strategist | Chief Creative, D U N N
All service providers face the same dilemma: the client who doesn’t want to hear your ideas. It’s a particularly thorny issue, though, for professionals who touch on psychological issues that are very touchy for the client.
Yet you have to get the client to listen, argues Michael Dunn – you’re not doing your job as a brand consultant otherwise.
Here are some actionable tips, gathered from a variety of sources. (See the originals for more background on why people so stubbornly refuse to change their views):
Open the floor up to questions: “Say, I have a question…” and then provide your feedback. This is a method of challenging the client’s reasoning in a nonthreatening way, so that you can “let it be their idea” when they change their minds. – Personal advice from a friend
Eliminate your ego: “Reiterate that your reasoning is not self-serving but rather has the best interests of the business at heart.” – IntuitQuickBase
Try “gossip therapy:” This means that you talk in a way that sounds like an everyday interchange between two friends. E.g., “I don’t know how you’re going to respond to this, but I’ve decided to tell you something…” or “I really don’t want to be intrusive… but…” – Uncommon Knowledge (UK)
Give them a dose of reality, in the form of options: “You can continue to do what’s not working, or you could try something different. One road maintains the misery you (currently) have and will probably make it worse. The other road will more than likely help you if you’re willing to give it a try.” – Counseling Today
Copyright 2015 Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. Dr. Blumenthal is founder and president of BrandSuccess, a corporate content provider, and co-founder of the brand thought leadership portal All Things Brand. The opinions expressed are her own and not those of any government agency or entity or the federal government as a whole.