“Good advice often grates on the ear;” so goes a Buddhist maxim.
When I’m hired to develop and conduct a training program or provide one-on-one consultant services (coaching), clients are not always happy when they learn new information or see their reflection in the metaphorical mirror. Behaviors that have served well over an entire career are no longer working as effectively. While I consider my words carefully, there are times when no matter how it’s phrased, the truth can be harsh to hear.
The result is that I then receive feedback that people don’t like some of the messages I deliver.
You can’t ask illegal questions of prospective candidates – “I’ve always asked this question in job interviews.”
People don’t think that you listen to them – “These employees are wimps.”
Coaching employees is not a directive exchange – “Coaching requires patience I don’t have.”
Tolerating ‘jerks’ sends a message to the workforce that their behavior is OK – “Sometimes the best person is a jerk.”
It appears that your desire to appear nice is diluting the message – “Your observation is inaccurate; I’m not being too nice.”
What kind of consultant, trainer, coach, or facilitator do you want?
Do you have the courage to listen to unpleasant truths about yourself, setting aside your ego long enough to consider them at least briefly on their merits?
Can you view an honest colleague as truly supportive?
Some of my clients don’t/can’t.
However, if I don’t think I can be honest, my service as a good consultant wanes. Working together becomes a waste of the clients’ money AND my time. If I were to continue the work, I’d be carefully monitoring what I say to make sure I don’t hurt feelings or say things that upset anyone.
While it makes me a bit sad, it clarifies for me that these are not a good fit. I want the clients who can hear and consider things that are uncomfortable. I want to work with people who understand that while the learning may be uncomfortable, the outcome/goal/objective is worth the uneasiness.
I continue to learn that I have to be very VERY clear about how hard and challenging learning can be. If people are looking for affirmation that everything they are doing and thinking is perfect as is – they don’t need a coach, a consultant or a training program.