More than a year ago I wrote a blog about what our clients have taught us. I had a conversation this week, which reminded me of that blog. I was talking to a client for the first time and I told them that they were paying for my advice, that I would give it to them, but if they didn’t like it that was their prerogative.
When I first launched Gem PR & Media I was reluctant to say exactly what I thought when counseling clients. This was unusual because previously I had been very upfront as an account manager. I think, no, I know it was because I was afraid to offend Gem PR & Media clients and lose them. Then, a client asked me for my professional opinion and I didn’t give it to them. Instead, I told them what I thought they would want to hear. Well, eventually, my ‘politeness’ came back to bite me and the client told me not to tell them what I thought they would want to hear, but give my professional opinion because that’s what they were paying me for – even if I knew they weren’t going to like it.
This was one of the most important lessons in my professional life. I just needed to be reminded that I do a good job for my clients because I am always upfront with them.
I enjoy working with clients that have a strong personality, that challenge me, and question my approach. There are times, of course, when you need to evaluate the extent to which you ‘push’ your point (as a friend once said to me ‘lose the battle but win the war.’) I’m actually quite good at this – especially when I’m dealing with a crisis – the gloves come off and I’ll fight tooth and nail to protect that client. In my life, I’m terrible at seeing the big picture. Sure, I have no problem telling friends what I think and why, but me, personally, I’ll jump in before I’ve taken the chance to consider all options and evaluate the situation properly. I was talking to a friend the other day and I told her something I knew she needed to hear, but that I also knew no one else would, we were on the phone but I could hear the relief in her voice because all she needed was someone to be totally honest and upfront with her.
As a professional that, at times, along with a team of attorneys, insurance advisors, even police has to lay out the ups and downs of their future, the future of their livelihood, you can be nothing but honest and upfront. Experience has taught me, as have my clients, that I’m here to help them navigate a path that they alone cannot.