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Are You Making Your Opinion Count?

By Michael Zipursky

Have you ever been shy or even scared to express your real opinion on an issue to your client?

If you have, you aren’t alone. I believe this fear, if we can call it that, affects consultants all around the world.

Heck, I dealt with this for several years early in my career.

Who Usually Struggles
People that tend to be shy, are listeners more than speakers, or have been brought up in a culture where group thinking rather than individualism is promoted – are usually the ones that face this issue.

If you’ve never struggled with expressing your opinions even if they go against what other people are saying than you may not find today’s post interesting.

But if you’ve ever found yourself in a meeting where a voice inside of you tries to bubble up (but can’t) to counter what your client wants because you believe their ideas, plans, actions or decisions to be wrong – then keep on reading…

A BIG Problem
At first glance not expressing your opinion even when it goes against what your client wants may not seem like a big problem.

They’re paying you, your job is to keep them happy, right? Wrong!

Of course, you need to keep your client happy.

However, most people that find themselves in this situation fail to recognize that their clients actually WANT to be proved wrong from time to time.

You see, they are paying you for your professional opinion – not to simply agree with them all the time.

The fear that you’ll get axed for ‘going against the boss’ rarely becomes a reality.

Going Against the Grain
Listen, it’s understandable that many people have trouble crossing the brass by telling them they are wrong. Most business owners tend to have a strong opinion and they are not always the most approachable of people.

That must not stop you.

Your job, as difficult as it might be, is to always tell your client not what you think they want to hear…rather your true opinion – even if it goes against what they believe is right.

Protect Yourself

To clarify. This doesn’t mean that you’ll go around telling your clients they are ‘wrong’ and leave it at that. When you counter with a different opinion you better have a reason or case study you can call on that you can use to explain your reasoning.

What you’ll find is that your client will appreciate what you have to say. And while they may not at first if you have some proof or a strong reason as to why your proposal is correct – there’s good chance they’ll go with your recommendation.

Even if they don’t, no worries. At the end of the day it’s not about a stirring up some coup. It’s about making sure that your opinion is known and that you do what you can to support your case – of course, in your clients’ best interest.

Making Your Opinion Count
If they choose to disregard your opinion, if  (and when) things don’t turn out the way they should have, at least they know your position on it and they can’t come back and blame you.

Another thing you should consider is respect. Most business owners like to get straight to the point. They appreciate someone that has an opinion and can express it right away.

More often than not the negativity you associate with having a different opinion than your client is more in your mind than in theirs. So go on, don’t be shy to tell them what you think.

When you start speaking your mind, you’ll command more respect, you’ll feel more confident and people will start listening to you more often.

6 thoughts on “Are You Making Your Opinion Count?

  1. Jenny says:

    Michael I really like this article. I have tried to work on making this better. It's not easy yet I like the suggestions you have shared. Thank you so much!

  2. Great article…We're seeing a lot of consulting busiensses get started – people who were formerly at larger organizations, but were laid off or wanted out of the corporate grind. Many of these people have expertise in search, SEO, SEM and are taking it out on their own. They're forming corporations and LLCs and protecting their assets, and in the meantime they're able to benefit small business owners who can't afford a full time person with this level of expertise.

  3. Michael this a great article. A good reminder of our obligation to be honest with clients.

    • Mark – thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it. Good to know that others feel the same way.

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