November 19, 2020

When Clients Don’t Seem to ‘Get It’!

Sometimes it makes us both laugh.
Correction, hoot & holler!
At ourselves.

But there are times when (we now admit) each of us has been haunted by the thought:
”Is this what it’s like?
When your memory starts to go.
You know… perhaps, devastating alzheimer’s?
And other things we don’t like to talk about?”

I’m talking about the “What-Did-I-Come-Up-Here-For?” syndrome.
Where you start up the stairs determined to get something; do something.

Then, on arrival, you stare vacantly, stupified (stupid?), at bedrooms and bathroom doors…
stumble into boxes-meant-for-the-attic-three-months-ago…
completely bemused as to why the dickens you’re here!

So, what do you do?
Well, you mechanically trudge down the stairs again, don’t you?
Then stand there, gormlessly, shuffling, mumbling… until you remember.

Then the process starts all over again.

Until I read – only weeks ago – why we all (thank goodness I’m not alone!) tend to do this.

Something about our survival instinct (isn’t it always?).
Where we have to rapidly assess the new space we’re in…
Essential behaviour: to scan for opportunities and for dangers.

so – whatever our intention at first…
we’re (apparently) designed to be distracted.

Ah! That explains it! We’re so easily distracted!
Explains It. And a great deal more!

Seems to me the media – particularly the Social bit – make that a priority.
Distract us. With their Topic for Today.
So that they set the agenda about what we’ll all then think about. Talk about.

And we (that is, everybody else except you and me, of course) follow that distraction, herd-like.
Talking and arguing and opinion-ating, and taking positions and sides.
Blissfully following the agenda they’ve set for us.

When coaching leaders, I’m told that the same problem arises with too many of their conversations with clients.

Those clients seem to want to dig into things like Costs and Performance and The Prime Minister and Events in Some Country.
Missing the point completely about why we’re really here. Talking together. Planning together.

Clients can be brilliant at distracting us.
They lead us into side-lined conversations.

And we – obedient and wishing to please – follow them.

What that tells me is this:
Maybe we start the relationship based on the wrong purpose.

Maybe the problem is not them.
Maybe It’s US.

Maybe WE allow them to set the agenda around Costs and Performance and Gurus and Who-We’re-Better-Than and Events in Some Country.
Maybe WE never get down to what really matters.

The impact that our work together will have on their lives.
Isn’t that where all of our work must eventually lead?

Isn’t that the whole point? What Really Matters?

Next time you’re with a client who is unclear why they’re really standing/sitting there…
Ask yourself:

“Have I helped them grasp a meaningful agenda here?
Or am I the creator of the distraction?”