CONSULTING: The Path of Service
(Note: I just found this on my hard drive; it’s from 1997. I reckon it’s still relevant and of value, so please enjoy.)
During a recent meeting with a client to review details of a corporate retreat for three hundred people, he made some appreciative comments about my style of coaching and consulting. He mentioned several specifics and said that he thought these ought to be essential elements in any successful consulting business. He should know; my client is a superior consultant who over the years has demonstrated rare vision, courage, integrity, and skill.
My client asked me to think about developing a seminar that I might offer to his company of consultants to support their emerging excellence. I began to reflect on how I do my consulting work. It was difficult at first because I just do what I do; I never stopped to analyze how I do it.
The following twenty-five principles represent my inquiry into what I feel are important aspects of consulting. They are not in any particular order; number one is not more significant than number seventeen. These principles are certainly not gospel. They are simply reflections on the manner in which I do my work. You may find them to be useful catalysts in the process of becoming more aware of your own work style, values, and commitments.
You will see that I am particularly passionate about certain principles; it is also true that my viewpoint is constantly changing and evolving as I mature in understanding, skill, and experience. In fact, this very tendency may be the most important attribute of a consultant: that he or she is constantly growing and learning and evolving. Six months from now, I would most certainly have a different perspective on the essentials of consulting than I do today.
It is important to know for yourself what being a coach and consultant means and to articulate your own guiding principles. At the end of each principle, I present you with questions so that you may investigate and discover the truth of your own work. My wish is that you become a truly unique, profound, and inspiring artist.
PRINCIPLE ONE: Defining the Work
A consultant is someone whose primary interest is the well-being of others. In this way, I think that consulting is really putting your particular expertise in service to the client’s desire for enhanced well-being. The client may retain your services for any number of reasons; still, underneath all the reasons, the client wants you to help him attain a better life.
When there is confusion, you are the clarity. When there is a problem, you are the solution. When there is an impasse, you are the way. When there is frustration, you are the peace. When there is fear, you are the courage. As a consultant, you always represent enhanced well-being. A consultant is an advocate for exploring frontiers of knowledge and performance that lead to enhanced well-being.
Defining the work also means that you know what your expertise is and that you project that expertise with credibility and confidence. Expertise is a unique blend of life experience, values, creativity, vision, technical skill, passion, and dedication. Your expertise should represent a value that no one else can provide. That’s why I make a distinction between technical proficiency and getting the job done, and contributing to the well-being of a client in such a comprehensive way that the full impact of your work can’t even be quantified.
A magic wand is the perfect metaphor for expertise: magic that only you can produce.
How do you define your work as a consultant? How do you communicate this to prospective clients so that they know what they are getting? What is your expertise?
PRINCIPLE TWO: Love Your Work
You must love your chosen field of consulting; if you do not, QUIT NOW and save yourself, your family and friends, your various vendors and clients and customers — in fact, the society at large — a lot of suffering and grief. Even if you are technically skillful and can become successful in terms of accounts and revenue, in my mind that is not enough. I consider consulting to be an art, not a profession. As an art, it is a means to discover and express the most authentic and vibrant parts of yourself. Consulting requires the passion of an artist; consulting is the means to find and contribute beauty and meaning to yourself and others.
This does not mean that some days won’t be a bitch. You may not like every aspect of a particular project. You will have a stronger connection with some clients than others. But the overall experience you must have about yourself and your work is that you are an artist who is composing majestic works of art with passion and enthusiasm and joy.
Is this too abstract? For me it is not. When I am engaged with clients I become really alive. The faucet of inspiration is opened through the engagement and I feel that my life has purpose and meaning through the service I provide. Some consultants use the “do good” philosophy to support their work. They call themselves change agents and are motivated by an intellectual conviction that they know how everything in the world should be ordered. These people make me a little nervous. I think it is better to be motivated by a love for your work, without regard to effect.
Do you love your work? Why? How does your work reflect the deepest and most meaningful parts of yourself?
PRINCIPLE THREE: Respect Your Client
If you do not respect a prospective client, do not work for them. To respect your client means to appreciate what they do and how they do it. You must be willing to be as accountable as they are for the effect the client’s activity produces in the world. You don’t have to like them (although I recommend that), but you must respect them. Otherwise, you will compromise the primary tool of any consultant: integrity.
Do you respect your clients; if so, why and how to you show them that you do?
PRINCIPLE FOUR: Act With Integrity
Integrity refers to what you know about your values and the degree to which you act in accord with them. Simply put, it asks you to do what you say you will do.
Integrity is what people, regardless of whether they like you or not, will say is true about what they can count on from you. In a broader sense, integrity refers to the level of consciousness with which you live and work. As a consequence of this broader view, integrity is analogous to a boat’s wake: it is the effect you produce on others and the environment as you go about doing your work.
What can people count on from you, consistently and over time?
PRINCIPLE FIVE: Set the Context
Setting the context in which the work happens defines the significance of your expertise and its value to your client. It includes articulating a quantifiable value to your client of your contribution to his well-being, and pointing out any adverse or limiting conditions, scarcity of resources, timeframes, over which you triumph.
I want my client to know that he is not paying me on a metered clock — I’m not a taxi. My client does not pay me for time and effort: my client pays for my expertise and the unique results that I can produce because of it. Setting the context helps the client appreciate your expertise. If you can make a jump shot in the backyard, that’s one thing; if you can make a jump shot with two seconds left in the seventh game of the NBA championship, with your team behind by one point, that’s another. Setting the context is not about arrogance, posturing, or boasting. It is simply preparing your client to appreciate and value your expertise.
How do you set the context of your work so that your clients know and value your expertise?
PRINCIPLE SIX: Know Your Client
When you take the time to know your client you will be giving them a rare gift: the feeling of being heard, seen, and acknowledged. Personalize your client relationship so that they feel you understand them, care about them, and have their well-being foremost in your mind. This means that you must be able to emotionally connect with clients (which enables them to get to know you, also); some consultants treat their clients like research lab rats.
The more you know about your client, the more you can apply your expertise to their situation in original and meaningful ways. This principle is the key to customization, an indispensable component of any consulting program.
PRINCIPLE SEVEN: Let Your Client Know You
I like to know something about the consultants I sometimes hire to work with me. I don’t want them to be like X-ray technicians in white coats that leave the room before they hit the button. I want a consultant to remain in the room with me.
When I say to let the client know you, I don’t mean that you should give them a replica of your bronzed baby shoes or spend hours talking about your childhood and your family and what you did in between sixth and seventh grade. I mean that you should be a person with them. Be natural. Don’t affect some kind of “consulting demeanor.” Of course, you must be appropriate to the moment and skillful in your conduct. You must, in general, behave in a way that would support your client in believing in your expertise and trusting you with the work.
Just don’t put on airs. Be natural, authentic, and friendly. To be a real human being doesn’t diminish your expertise; it enhances it. Some people might think that you have to be aloof and appear special in some way so as to cultivate the “expert” aura. Personally, I can’t stand that crap. Be real. If you have expertise, it will show itself and people will appreciate you all the more for being both an exceptional consultant and an accessible human being. Your expertise will set you apart from your client; your humanness will bring you together.
One way to determine how real you are in your work is to notice how much of a shift you experience between work and home. Of course there will be some shift, because your role changes. But you are not the role you play. If you feel tense, sad, angry, frustrated, or lonely at the end of the day, chances are you are suppressing your real self. Even at the end of a long and grueling day, you should feel the pleasure of knowing that you contributed in some way to the general well-being of others.
How much of your real self to you bring to your work, and how much do you reveal to your clients?
PRINCIPLE EIGHT: Keep Your Client Informed
Your client will probably be successful in their area of expertise. As a consequence, they may be suspicious of outside “experts” in whose eyes they can appear inept or foolish. They may be reluctant to initially let go of the reigns of control. You will have to earn their trust over time. In the beginning, tell them what you are doing, how you are doing it, and any other salient points of your service for them. Keep it succinct and ask them if they want more or less information. Let them become familiar with your methods; it helps them to feel comfortable with you. Present them with options as well as your recommendations. Let them see a range of possibilities. Nobody really likes to be told what to do. Even when you’re way is clearly the only way, let the client choose it.
Also, you will most likely be in positions in which you will be representing your client, officially or unofficially. They will want to know that you will represent them in an appropriate manner. Tell them the truth; they will find out sooner or later anyway, and if they think you have lied to or deceived them, you’ll never earn their trust. In the consulting world, without trust the game is over. Keeping your client informed builds trust.
To what extent do you share information with your clients? Do you include them in the process of your work, or do you keep this secret?
PRINCIPLE NINE: The Larger Context
Neither the consultant nor the client lives or works in a vacuum. The consulting relationship exits in the larger context of families, communities, societies, and the world. This awareness requires that we become sensitive to the consequences of our work with respect to its effect on society. We should hold regular dialogues — with ourselves and with our clients — about personal accountability, ethics, and social responsibility. We ought to be very mindful of how our work touches others, directly and indirectly. This is very, very important.
If we don’t do this, our integrity is likely to become a mere slogan. When we lose our integrity, we lose our heart and our soul. If this happens, everyone will suffer. Since consulting is about enhancing well-being, we should not become agents of suffering.
Do you consider the larger context in which you do your work? What happens when something you or your client wants to achieve is not in accord with the well-being of the greater context?
PRINCIPLE TEN: Communicate Always
It is possible in the consulting relationship to become upset. Your ego and feelings may become bruised; you may become exasperated with the client; you may feel unappreciated. When these things occur, you may be tempted to retreat into a frustrated and angry silence. Do not do this. You must always stay in an active communication link with your client. When you stop communicating, the game is over.
This is also true of the client. You must find a way to keep the client communicating with you, even if it is to explicitly acknowledge that they don’t want to speak with you. That’s okay.
It is quite common for people to fall into patterns of retreat and withholding when their feelings get hurt. Many people communicate their emotional state by becoming an impediment to the work. They find a way to stop the game, thereby covertly expressing some emotion. Do not ever do this, and do everything within your power to not let your client do this.
Have you experienced what happens when communication breaks down? Do you take responsibility for keeping the channels open? Are you actively developing your own skills in this area?
PRINCIPLE ELEVEN: Emotional Maturity
Do not let your pride or reactivity cause you to loose sight of the basic purpose of your relationship with the client: to serve the client’s well-being.
I think this is one of the most important principles because a lack of emotional maturity will manifest as all kinds of counter-productive behaviors. Do not play parent-child games with clients. Do not get into lovers’ spats or spouse squabbles. Do not become petty or take personally any offensive acts by your client. Develop the capacity to neutralize any emotionally immature response you might have to anything your client says or does.
If you need to address a client’s counter-productivity, do so with clarity, directness, and a sensitivity to the possible motives for their behavior. You must be able to induct them into a state of maturity through your own attainment in this regard. It may require extraordinary patience, but then patience should be part of your expertise.
This principle requires that you do not project the shadow of unresolved personal issues on to your client, thereby sabotaging the work you have contracted to perform. It is certainly true that your work with a client may provoke deep and profound reactivity because of lingering tensions from childhood or with parents, or conflicts with authority, power, or self-expression. You should not use the client relationship to act out these issues and conflicts.
However, when they appear you must deal with them, but do so in a way that will promote the work and honor the relationship with your client. Do not allow your own intrapersonal work to masquerade as interpersonal clashes. This is very difficult for many people. It is easy to see how often we allow our stuff to get in the way; thus, this principle of emotional maturity is very important. It means that we must be committed to working with our own growth in a responsible manner.
How do you deal with your emotional reactivity to situations and relationships? Do you manage your own issues in a responsible and productive manner? What do you do on a regular basis to face and resolve your own issues and conflicts?
PRINCIPLE TWELVE: Gaining the Client’s Cooperation
Your client may not always be as cooperative and attentive to your needs as you would like. I often feel as though my clients are creating obstructions, if not intentionally sabotaging, my work for them. This is not an uncommon response to the change and growth that a consultant often represents.
A good consultant will not become victimized by a client’s lack of cooperation, or allow the obstacles created by a client to interfere with the work. Learn how to gain your client’s cooperation and attention. This is a critical piece of learning how to manage the consulting relationship. If you react with immaturity and anger or let your frustration get the better of you, you will have simply created more difficulty. Learn to manage yourself and learn to manage your client, so that both of you are working together from an attentive and cooperative stance. You must also be on guard against working with a client whose lack of cooperation will undermine the level of excellence you are committed to producing. After all, a consulting relationship is just that: if one party does not want to play, the game is over.
Do you let your client’s mood, resistance, or temporary lack of cooperation get in the way of your work? Do you throw in the towel and say “the hell with them,” or do you work with the situation in creative ways to gain their cooperation?
PRINCIPLE THIRTEEN: Listen! Huh? LISTEN!
Listening is a vital skill. Ironically, we rarely, if ever, learn to develop this capacity. Listening is how we establish the field in which our relationship unfolds. Listening is the means by which we perceive and receive the client’s reality. When someone feels heard (the consequence of effective listening), they become euphoric. They will love you forever. This isn’t bad, by itself. But listening also allows you to truly serve the client, because you will have created a relationship to who they actually are, not who you think or guess they are. Listening involves opening your total being to the total being of your client. To be able to listen means that you are present, attentive, alive. It is an enormous undertaking, one that has repercussions throughout your life.
You ought to run, not walk, to the nearest bookstore or training center and begin the journey of learning how to listen.
Are you a good listener? How do you know? Where did you learn to listen? What are the specific elements of effective listening?
PRINCIPLE FOURTEEN: Friendly, Not Familiar
I think this is a useful principle. This principle refers to the level of intimacy with which you relate to your client. It is important to be friendly and to establish a pleasant working environment that both you and the client enjoy and look forward to being in. However, you must also keep sufficient “distance” from the client to represent the growth horizon for the client and the tension and discomfort that may accompany that growth.
You cannot let your friendship with the client prevent you from doing your work. Sometimes, the client may try to manipulate you through this friendship to avoid or comprise the edges you should be playing with them. This is why I make a distinction between “friendly” and “familiar.” Becoming familiar is to be so friendly that you lose sight of the forest for the trees. You become too entangled in the attitudes and behaviors that belong to your client. Familiarity is the threshold of co-dependency. Do not go there. It is difficult; I often step over the line, because I really want to be intimate with my clients. I like them. I love my work. I often get carried away by enthusiasm untempered by discrimination.
However, when I do cross the line, and when I do feel that I have lost the clear space from which I do my best work, I acknowledge that to myself and my client. Then I correct the situation. I must always be free to speak the truth of my perception, which is the cornerstone of my consulting expertise.
Have you allowed your relationship with your client to become too familiar, such that you have jeopardized the ability to do your work? How do you handle this?
PRINCIPLE FIFTEEN: Give Value Added Service
This is simple. Always find a way to give more than the most your client expects. Of course, there is always the danger that you will be taken for granted and that your client will come to expect this of you. That’s fine. This value added service builds goodwill and appreciation, even at unconscious levels.
Your clients don’t always need to know why they keep using your service; it’s just important that they do and that they are happy to refer others to you. Giving value added service is a part of this process of repeat and referral business. Do it, and don’t make a big deal out of it.
Think of it as good karma. Sometime it will come back to you. But don’t do it for that reason. Do it to practice generosity of spirit.
Do you give more than your contract or the client expectation calls for?
PRINCIPLE SIXTEEN: Keep Yourself Fit and Healthy — Body, Mind, and Spirit
I am my consulting practice; basically, my service is me and my capacity to see clearly into situations and relationships. I am retained by clients who expect me to see something useful that no one else has seen. It is essential, therefore, that I keep myself in the best possible condition to do this. If I were a professional skydiver, I would damn sure take care of my parachute and harness. I am my parachute and harness. I must be constantly attentive to my level of clarity
I know some consultants who pride themselves on being chronically exhausted. I don’t get it. What are they trying to prove? Yes, from time to time, you’ll have an assignment that for one reason or another is going to take everything from you and you will be empty and tired. But if you are committed to your health and fitness, this will be an infrequent occurrence and you will be able to recuperate quickly. If a consultant does not keep their body, mind, and spirit in good shape, they are in the wrong business. And please, don’t blame consulting for your lack of fitness.
One way to stay healthy is to be committed to personal growth and learning. If you aren’t learning about yourself and growing into a wiser and more compassionate and skillful person, your either dead or you should be.
How fit are you? What do you do on a regular basis to remain healthy and energetic? How conscious and careful are you about nutrition and exercise for the body, mind, and spirit? Do you address health with your clients?
PRINCIPLE SEVENTEEN: “I Don’t Know”
Saying “I don’t know” does not undermine your expertise; it emphasizes your humanity. Having expertise and being human are not mutually exclusive. Also, saying I don’t know means you are on the frontier of your knowledge and skill and experience, which in turn means that you are pushing hard on the boundary of the known. Truly speaking, when compared to the infinite mystery of life, all of our expertise sounds like a pager in a tornado.
“I don’t know” is fantastic. You are about to discover a piece of the unknown and become a bigger and wiser person. A good consultant is a big and wise person who is interested in the well-being of others.
Most of my “expert knowing” comes spontaneously as part of my willingness to see what each moment can reveal about itself. In this way, I never really know anything, but I am always discovering something of value and relevance. What I can discover about each moment’s possibilities is my expertise. I am not afraid of saying “I don’t know.” I would say that it is my consulting motto. In not knowing, I am free to see what is there in front of me. I can let my eyes see, and my ears hear, and my heart feel. I can let my intuition sense deeply into the truth of a situation because I am not all cluttered up with what I “know.”
When it comes to meeting adversity, solving problems, resolving interpersonal tensions, being able to say “I don’t know” may open the door to new possibilities.
Can you think of a time when a greater willingness to admit you didn’t know something would have made a positive difference? As a consultant, do you think you have to always know everything?
PRINCIPLE EIGHTEEN: Look in the Mirror, Just in Case
You will sometimes encounter difficulties in your consulting relationship. The client won’t listen to you, balls get dropped, tempers flare, deadlines are missed, and so on. Things don’t always go as you would hope. It is always a good practice, before blaming something or someone else, to see what your role might be in the difficulty.
When difficulties or problems arise, you might want to assess the clarity of your motives, preparation, commitment, communication, and, especially, your emotional reactivity. Quite often we can discover something about ourselves — our intentions and behavior — that has contributed to the problem, such that when we correct that, the problem is significantly altered.
When something goes wrong, where do you look for clues as to the source of the problem? Do you always point the finger outside yourself, or do you take the time to sincerely reflect on your own motives and behavior relative to a problem?
PRINCIPLE NINETEEN: It’s Their Game
You are dispensable to your client, and you should not try to become indispensable. You are not meant to hang around forever, although you may work with clients over a long period of time. Essentially, you are being called in to help them get better at their game. Sometimes, a consultant’s need to be a part of a community or of a larger enterprise leads them to burrow into a client’s organization. Don’t do this. It’s their game, not yours.
This also means that the client will probably end up taking credit for the contributions you make to their game. That’s as it should be, because your contribution should become assimilated into the client’s organization: your work becomes their enhanced well-being. You may or may not get explicit acknowledgement and credit for your expertise. Be content with knowing you have done a good job for which you will be well paid. When it is time to go away and leave the client alone, do so with grace.
Have you ever worn out your welcome, and your effectiveness, because you wanted to be indispensable to a client? Have you ever confused your game and their game?
PRINCIPLE TWENTY: Be Accountable
This principle means that you must always be responsible for your own experience. At first glance, it may not seem to be relevant to our inquiry into essential elements of consulting, but I think it is. Being human, consultants can blame the tensions and difficulties inherent in the consulting relationship for their own negativity. Regardless of what is happening, the basic and incontrovertible fact is that you have total freedom in terms of response. You cannot always control outer events, but you do always generate your response to outer events from within your own self.
Maintain a positive attitude and outlook. Always strive to be masterful in how you choose to experience your reality and how you respond to circumstances. In this way, you become the tuning fork of the high ground of joyful experience. do not develop the habit of being at the effect of others and of circumstances. Learn to be independent of what happens. You can create your own experience: you can be joyful, enthusiastic, and positive or you can be depressed, resentful, and negative. These choices are not a function of what is happening. They are a function of your level of accountability for your own experience.
Do you let what happens outside of you determine your inner state and experience? Do you see how you can become free from events and be joyful and positive even in the face of adversity? How does this principle of accountability relate to the quality of your relationship with clients?
PRINCIPLE TWENTY-ONE: Work With Clients Who Appreciate You
I want people with whom I work and play to appreciate me. I want them to be happy, even thrilled, that I am in their life, and I want them to demonstrate that. One can certainly do personal growth work in the presence of people who don’t appreciate and respect you. You may choose to do this. Personally, I couldn’t be bothered. At this stage of my life, I have made appreciation a condition of having access to me; it’s the price of admission to my world. I have passed up a lot of money because I didn’t want to play with certain people. They didn’t appreciate me enough. Is this arrogance or conceit on my part? I don’t think so.
Life is just too damned short to put up with a lot of crap from people. I am not a dumping ground for negativity. I will show people how to appreciate others if they don’t know how but are willing to learn. However, I will not hang out with people who are committed to being sullen and mean-spirited.
I understand that I have to be worthy of another’s appreciation and respect. I must be a person whom others want to be with because of the uplifting experience they can have with me. To be such a person is my responsibility, and I work at being such a person. I think that I bring a lot of good stuff to my relationships. I won’t be a whipping post for anyone.
Is this principle relevant to you? What is your bottom line for working with people? Do you have a minimum price of admission to your world, or do you just let anyone in to do as they please?
PRINCIPLE TWENTY-TWO: Use Your Intuition
Intuition is like lightening: it’s hard to put it in a bottle. Even if you can, you tame what is essentially wild.
Intuition refers to an aspect of our consciousness which is not constrained by the past, reason, or cause and effect. It is a sudden, spontaneous knowing which is a function of each moment or situation. Intuition allows you to know things you didn’t know you knew.
Intuition is like magic. Your willingness to explore the frontier of your own powers of mind and consciousness are essential. Don’t succumb to being only rational. It is okay to color outside the lines of convention. In fact, you must learn to do this. This aspect of your potential is the rich field in which amazing flowers of creativity and invention appear, much like a magician pulls paper flowers out of thin air. This world of intuition links us to the world of spirit, and the world of spirit in turn links us to everyone and everything. It is here, in this world of interdependence, that we really develop the character that becomes our expertise.
How do you define intuition? Do you develop this aspect of yourself? How? What are the benefits in your work of cultivating intuition?
PRINCIPLE TWENTY-THREE: “I Am Not the Right Resource.”
From time to time, I may engage other consultants to service my corporate clients. This experience has led me to develop this principle. Most consultants will always say that what you need is what they have. If they have a shovel and you need a rocket ship, they will find a way to convince you that you need a shovel. I find this extremely annoying, and I have not sub-contracted work to certain consultants because of this. My experience with these people is that I am not heard; as a consequence, I feel patronized by their “expertise.” I do not trust them to relate to my client’s situation clearly. I am certain that they will use my client to fulfill their own agenda rather than serve my client’s unique and particular needs. This kind of arrogance often exacerbates the very conditions you as a consultant are hired to resolve.
It is quite possible that a prospective client needs someone other than you, because there is a significant discrepancy between you and the client: their need and your expertise, core operating values, levels of sincerity and commitment to the consulting process, or of personality and temperament. I think it is very wise and mature to be able to say to a prospect, “I am not the right resource for you.”
I have on several occasions been pursued intensely by clients after I have said this. I think they are in such shock that they are willing to do anything to engage with you. That’s how rare this kind of integrity is.
Have you ever told a prospect that you are not the right resource? Are you willing to walk away from a situation if you see it is not right?
PRINCIPLE TWENTY-FOUR: It Wouldn’t Kill You to Laugh
I would say that after expertise and integrity, humor is the most important tool in the consultant’s tool box. Next to love, humor is the most universal language, and laughter is most beautiful dialect. You don’t have to be a clown; just be willing to see the humor in things. It is a form of cosmic enjoyment, and laughter is a wonderful way to dissipate tension and reduce stress. It is also a wonderful way to connect with people and share with them the joys and sorrows of life’s journey that we are all taking together.
I have, from time to time, received feedback that because I like to laugh and because I try to find the humor in things, that I am not “focused” or “competent.” Once, someone called me scattered and unprofessional. I think that they are afraid of the easy manner with which I try to get things done. Actually, I am extremely focused, competent, and professional. My results speak for themselves. My style, however, is to stay as far away as possible from the dark intensity and forbidding coldness that is often associated with “professionalism.”
Do you think that laughing compromises a “professional” relationship? How easily do you laugh and express delight with clients?
PRINCIPLE TWENTY-FIVE: Be Responsive
As customers, we have all had the experience of getting the full court press, until the deal is done. After that, we might as well be the plague. Never treat your client as though they were an inconvenience or an interruption in your work. Always be responsive.
Some people like to play little games which they think enhance their self-importance, like not returning calls promptly or being terminally unavailable or late. Don’t ever do this. Be on time, available, and responsive, regardless of what else is going on. If you can’t give your client the attention they want because of a legitimate conflict with other priorities, tell them that and arrange a time when you can attend to their needs or concerns.
To have someone be enthusiastically responsive to you is one of the most refreshing — almost incredible — experiences one can have in the business environment. What is more common is to be ignored, blown off, or treated with impatience or even disdain. People will want to work with you just to have the experience of being responded to with courtesy, interest, and care.
Are you responsive to your clients? If not, why? What do you let get in the way of being attentive to your client?