Who Asked You? (“When to apply the ‘shut up’ strategy”…)

You know the scene.  You’re meeting with a client group.  A formal agenda is set, but conversation tangents spin-off and opinions are voiced.  So what happens when you face opportunities to chime in and “share your thoughts”?

Good Advice:    “When you consider offering your unsolicited opinion, ask yourself whether this topic could impact the outcome of the project for which they hired you.  If so, then you must speak up, no matter what other objections you face.  Otherwise, you’re neglecting your duty to your client. 

Even if not directly related to your project, if you perceive a potential advantage for your client to embrace, or a disadvantage for them to avoid, then you should bring it to their attention.  The more the subject falls into your realm of expertise (or out of your client’s), the more this rule applies.

Consider whether your client has already made up their mind on the subject.  Unless you can demonstrate a clear risk or opportunity, you have no need to beat that dead horse just to voice your personal preferences.

Don’t discount emotional ties to a prior decision.  Humans naturally favor their past course of action (choice-supportive bias).  They may possess other non-logic-based ties to a particular path, too.  These might include feeling aligned with a group, especially the “in crowd.”  You can spot that by their use of the word “everybody,” or its equivalents like “enterprise developers these days.”  Questioning their decision threatens to separate them from the right-thinking group.  The need to stay with the herd runs deep.

Given these considerations, we can easily see that topics such as religion, politics, and sports fail nearly every test.  I avoid having these conversations with clients unless I know them well enough to feel certain that we can conduct a friendly, non-threatening discussion that won’t strain our relationship.  In fact, when you can do that, such dialogues strengthen the bond between you and your client.  But if you try to open those subjects too early, they’ll likely label you an opinionated jerk.”

Read more from the full article via TechRepublic writer, Chris Camden here


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