Most consultants start with an assumption – “I am your answer.” In fact, I can think of few professions in which the “professional” doesn’t inherently think they are the answer to the client’s dilemma. One time, I even heard an eminent psychologist say to a client who was willing to challenge his diagnosis, “Madam, by definition, I am the expert, you are the nut.”
What if we were to begin every consultation, every conversation, every encounter with the thought, “You are my question”. It doesn’t matter who the “You” is. It could be an individual. It could be a group. It could be the whole organization.
The fundamental issue is how I am approaching the encounter. Do I treat the other as someone or something to be explored, discovered, and understood. Or, do I treat them as something or someone to be informed, advised, and directed.
The conversation that begins with “You are my question” is one filled with inquiry, curiosity, wonder, and possibilities. The conversation that starts with “I am your answer” is filled with certainty, finality, control, and predictability.
A hint: How do you begin your conversations? With a question or a statement?