Over the years, I’ve had more than a few clients say some version of the following phrase to me: “You’re part consultant, part therapist.”
I couldn’t think of bigger compliment!
Why a compliment? Because, for a client to say that it means they trust you implicitly. It means they feel they can confide in you. And, it means they see you as someone who is a good listener (a key trait of any good consultant).
Yep, definitely a compliment.
But, also a necessary part of the job as a functioning consultant.
Let’s go back to the listening piece. A good consultant knows they should be talking less, and listening more. Probably to the tune of 80% listening, 20% talking. So, it’s natural than a good consultant would also serve as some form of a therapist to his/her clients.
Now, I’m using that therapist label lightly. Certainly, I’m not serving as an actual therapist. But, when chatting with a client, sometimes the conversation can turn in certain directions. It can go the personal route, talking about family, friends and kids.
Here, the “therapist” is listening.
It could be venting about work-related issues. Again, the “therapist” is listening.
In both cases, and more, the beauty of the relationship is I’m bound by the same doctor/patient confidentiality as a therapist would be–in a way. I’m usually asked to sign an NDA with most clients, so technically (and, more importantly, ethically), I can’t say a word to anyone about what they tell me (and, I wouldn’t want to).
The clients know this. And, this is a part of why they feel so comfortable sharing with me.
I like to think the other part, hopefully the bigger part, is that I’m easy to talk to. They feel a certain level of comfort with me. A collegiality that goes beyond being peers.
This is the holy grail of consulting.
So, if you ever have a client who calls you their “therapist”, take it as a compliment.
Take it as the ultimate compliment.