#46: Don’t scare the hamsters

Hamsters, are by nature, afraid of anything that is not a hamster. Confronted with a snake or any other potential enemy, a hamster will be paralyzed and play dead until danger has passed.

As a consultant you’ll meet a lot of hamsters. Many times. Everywhere. Think about an IT strategy project. An organization change program or business process optimization initiative. You have workshops and interviews with some of your client’s key people. You’re well prepared and have read all available documentation. You have sent out an agenda and topics the delegates should think through. You did your home work and have already identified some challenges, ideas or potential solutions. During the first meetings the key people are quite undedicated. Unresponsive. Apathetic. Apparently uninterested. They are like hamsters, you’re like a snake for them. They are paralyzed. They play dead and hope that the danger (you and your project) soon passes by.

To avoid a situation like that, you should always keep rule #46 in mind: Don’t scare the hamsters.

To tam a hamster or your clients’ key people, they have to become accustomed to you. You should handle your clients’ personal like a hamster and

  • Move slowly. Approach them carefully.
  • Talk softly and gently. Don’t scream. Don’t be noisy.
  • Give them time. Allow them to get known with you.
  • Be patient. Build confidence and trust.

So, don’t present your conclusions already in one of the first meetings otherwise you would rush over your clients’ personal. And they would play dead. Drop typical consultant buzzwords. Speak their language. Softly. Gently. Elseways they would be paralyzed. Listen carefully. Be interested. Don’t try to teach an old cowboy how to ride. Build trust. Otherwise they would be scared.

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