Consulting and the art of self-deprecation


Category : Consulting November 29, 2007

Today’s blog brings humor to your desktop (or PDA), along with some perspective on what consultants can learn from comedians.

According to Wikipedia.com, comedians use self-deprecating humor “to avoid seeming arrogant or pompous and to help the audience identify with them.” Sounds like a good strategy for anyone looking to build trust and rapport with another human being. Sounds like an especially good strategy for anyone in the consulting profession. Ask any client who has worked with consultants over the years – they’ll have at least a few horror stories to tell about the Big Important Expert they hired. That creates messes we are all left to clean up.

Self-deprecation is an art that should be routinely practiced by anyone who claims the title “consultant.”

Here’s some material for your toolkit (original author unknown):

Top ten things you’ll never hear from a consultant

1. You’re right; we’re billing way too much for this.

2. Bet you I can go a week without saying “synergy” or “value-added”.

3. How about paying us based on the success of the project?

4. This whole strategy is based on a Harvard business case I read.

5. Actually, the only difference is that we charge more than they do.

6. I don’t know enough to speak intelligently about that.

7. Implementation? I only care about writing long reports.

8. I can’t take the credit. It was Ed in your marketing department.

9. The problem is, you have too much work for too few people.

10. Everything looks okay to me.

Share this with your clients. They’ll enjoy laughing at your expense. And they’ll appreciate your ability to laugh at yourself!

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).

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