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I’ve grown to understand that every client holds the sacred responsibility to at least try to thwart my every attempt to help them. Most seem fully capable of fulfilling this obligation without anyone reminding them to do anything. Even those who innocently mistake me for a helpmate eventually understand that I would not help them, if only because I couldn’t. No matter how diligent, knowledgeable, insistent, or clever they or I might think I am, they’ll still have to untie their own Gordian knot. I need to be diligent anyway, to deflect their insidious pleas for help, and knowledgeable enough to recognize that line I should not wander beyond, and insistent in my belief that my client is fully capable of untying their own knot, and clever enough to successfully engage in this dance.

The BriefConsultant might be mistaken for help, or even for a helper, but he cannot be either. The role, properly deployed, might involve more shoving back out onto the ice than rescuing the apparently inept skater. The client is usually the source of his own difficulty. He might as well be the source of the resolution of that difficulty, too.

I know that sounds harsh, to claim that the client is always the source of his own difficulty, but check his track record. Under The Problem Is Not The Problem Rule, his coping with the difficulty usually turns out to carry the more severe effect. Rain might just happen to fall down on anyone anywhere, but raincoats and roofs require some reflection and acceptance before they come into being. Furthermore, rain, like most of the difficulties in this world, might be most properly characterized as feature rather than problem. The real tangles emerge whenever trying to fix a feature, and this seems adequate evidence of some coping issue more than a genuine problem situation.

My client will be difficult not merely because clients are quite natively difficult. They will fulfill their sacred responsibility to remind me that I am not there to help. Even the most seasoned Brief Consultant sometimes hankers to contribute helpful stuff, so the recalcitrant client serves as a dandy deflector, limiting what the consultant might do until he comes back to his senses again.

Thanks, ... or something.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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