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A call out to all consultants: Speak your mind, or sit on the fence and be ruined

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Why would you be a professional consultant and then choose sit on the fence? Often, it’s because they’re afraid of being wrong, being sued or unfavourably viewed by their client.

But, you know what, that is not going to cut it.

If you are a financial or other consultant, you must deliver advice. Your customers come to you for clarity, direction and an answer or solution. Clients will feel short-changed if you merely review a range of options that they might already be aware of.

I find that my opinion is precisely why my clients come to me. It’s why they pay me. I take a view and express it. It’s then up to them if they want to act on it or not.

If you want to build a trusted client relationship, you need to establish an emotional connection with your clients. You have to not be afraid to tell a client if they’re wrong, or tell them how they should deal with an issue – even if they don’t like your view. It’s this brutal honesty, without fear or favour, that people ultimately come to respect. So don’t be afraid…be emboldened!

Be cautious in forming your views but once you’ve thought them through, shout it from the rooftop. You will be surprised just what a positive impact it will have.

Here are seven tips that will help you speak your mind:

1. Set the ground rules

Let your clients know you’re going to speak your mind and you don’t care if they don’t like it. I say, “I’m going to tell you what’s real and what you can and can’t do, and what I would do in your shoes. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, let’s not work together.”

2. Tell your client you’re worth it

When you speak your mind you’re selling your intellectual capacity, not your time, and that’s much more valuable.

3. Don’t back down on a challenge

If you believe in your view, stand up for it. You will be challenged, but you have to push through. The experience will ultimately make you stronger.

4. Dare people to hold a view

Challenge those around you to take a view and voice it. When they do, respect them for it.

5. Block out emotional criticism

Ignore emotional criticism directed your way. Listen and evaluate constructive criticism when it is given and take it or leave it.

6. Admit fault

Be prepared to admit when you’re wrong. Be honest, direct and swift – don’t let it fester.

7. Reward honesty

In Japanese companies they reward people who admit fault but in Australia the blame game runs rife. Flip it and reward your staff for speaking up and admitting faults.

Adam Levine is the founder of Rockwell Group Holdings, a holding company led by the M&A law firm Rockwell Bates and Rockwell Investments.

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