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Of course, you can never lead a frontal assault or you turn any audience against you, so over the years I had developed the full asking questions / reformulating toolkit.
However, it seems that even that is considered a step too far, and I recently lost a major contract for engaging in the practice. As I was told, "We are very clear on what clients value about us" which apparently was "being left in a happy place" and under no circumstances getting the impression that something they had said might be questioned or reformulated, even if they had just essentially said that the earth was flat and Mercury floated on water.
To rub it in, the message then concluded on a deluge of empty-words slogans:
"Therefore we prioritise HOW we engage with clients, just as much as WHAT we do for them. Our belief is that change is both a science (WHAT) as well as an art (HOW). [...] We will grow with a team that 'gels' and provides the WOW factor for clients in the way we operate."
OK, that was probably not a high point for management consulting. But if that really is the trend (and I have every feeling that it is), what will be left of any discourse? How can we meaningfully communicate if marketing slogans replace normal language while even active listening, reformulating and asking for clarification is considered rude enough to be a sacking offense?
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
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