If you want to be a trusted advisor, you need to advise. You need a strong opinion and a point of view that is informed by your knowledge and experience. You need the ability to help your clients see new possibilities and make the decisions that move them forward. You help your client discover something about themselves. This is in large part a new way of looking at discovery, and it helps you shape your client’s thinking and their preference to work with you.
But just because you are shaping your client’s thinking doesn’t mean you can’t also allow them to help shape your thinking. In fact, a lot of what you know has come from what you have learned from your clients, and as the result of serving them.
What this means is that even if you need to teach your clients how to think about their business, sharing some new idea, sharing research, and sharing your opinion and your point of view, that you can also open a conversation in which you, too, are learning. You can frame the conversation in such a way that the learning runs in both directions, providing you with greater context and the ability to provide better counsel. This is important, but there is another reason to be open to having your views shaped: respect for your client’s knowledge and experience.
Even if you are going to share something your client doesn’t know, you can still open the conversation by saying, “A lot of what I am going to show you here you may already know. I’d like to share our view, and I’d like to ask you to share your ideas and opinions.” You can be both a teacher and a student at the same time, and you can demonstrate the kind of partner you are going to make later, the kind that is collaborative, respecting other people’s views and making room for them in the conversation.
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