Consultant Anxiety

At the RHSA High Impact Consulting Course they had a whole module on Consultant Anxiety.

When they started the discussion, they asked everyone to talk about what makes people anxious.  Listening and participating I was surprised at some of the things that people brought up and fondly thought of the movie "The Replacements" (this movie is about a bunch of players who never made it to the NFL taking over the spots of team players who went on strike) where in a team meeting the coach asks what people are afraid of hoping to elicit some response around inner deep thoughts, but the conversation was distracted by fears of Bees and Snakes as opposed to fear of failure or in these guys case returning to their regular jobs after the football strike was over.

So all I could think of was bees.  But in all seriousness, this is a significant issue as that this anxiety often effects the way we act and mostly in non-productive manners.  Some examples that I heard were:

  • Failure
  • Not seeming smart enough
  • Not bringing enough value
  • Add yours here…

There is nothing wrong with anxiety.  I actually like the endorphines
that can be created by the anxiety, the issue is that some of the
common defenses of anxiety are not positive.  Some of them are:

  • Tunnel vision – avoid asking the important contextual questions that may veer the discussion
  • Living in the wrong world – your world not the other party
  • "Good Guys" vs "Bad Guys" – hanging only with the friendly people and anyone with a differing opinion we avoid.
  • The Over Personalized View – Consultant is the central player as opposed to a participant.

These anxieties often mean we:

  • talk when we should listen,
  • derive our own ideas about where things should go and not work on
    them together with our client and the one I heard over and over again,
  • think the customer is stupid or does not get it.
  • leap to answer every question/concern
  • analysis paralysis – complete picture

What are your experiences with Consultant Anxiety?

  1. Jim Reply

    I always was very anxious starting with a new client. Just the unknown.
    I also worried about rejection or was it failure. I really fussed if my proposal was not accepted so I did not make cold calls or maybe even lukewarm calls.
    I remember one proposal I thought I had in the bag and lost and it really created a big question in my mind was I in the right business.
    These were all symptoms of consultant anxiety.
    I also was very concerned in my early career about making sure the client got value. I was very conscious of charging for my time. Later I got much more used to it but always attempted to give the client ten percent more than expected. (One of Harvey’s sayings)

Leave a Reply

captcha *