Here is a consulting tip: I received an interesting email this week from an individual representing another vendor also supporting my client. This email became a reminder of how valuable it is to keep your cool and, by all means, think before you type. The names are changed to protect my client (and Donald’s unfortunate employer):
Honestly, your response is a joke. Im on PTO and Thank you for pointing out the obvious. I could ask you to run a simple query in SAP to determine a handful of products that are negative but I guess that would be asking too much.
Kathryn- im sorry you have to deal with this. If you could let me know a couple neg products that would be helpful. Thank you!
The context of Donald’s note is really not important. The tone is unmistakable: rude, offensive, and non-productive. And I will add “uninformed”, since he clearly has no history of the relationships I’ve been building over the past 10 months.
Consulting Tip: Keep Your Cool
When you consult for a living, it’s only a matter of time before you receive an angry email from a client, or even get yelled at in a meeting point-blank. It’s natural to get defensive; after all, your reputation is at stake. The most important thing to do is keep things moving forward in a positive, productive direction.
A similar incident occurred recently — a colleague was the recipient. We were able to focus a potentially challenging situation — also and email — into an impromptu workshop to address concerns, re-direct the discussion, and ultimately build credibility.
Fortunately for me, Donald included my client counterpart on his email saving me the trouble of raising it to his attention. In my case, I never had to directly respond to the situation and the client will handle addressing the situation internally.
Consulting Tip: Think Before You Type
Here’s the problem with emails: They’re easily printed, forwarded, archived, distributed, and pasted into blog posts. They last forever. When you write an email, you really need to be comfortable with anyone and everyone seeing it.
In addition to keeping one’s cool, it’s also a good idea to think before hitting that ‘Send’ button. What is the desired outcome of your message? Is it productive? Are you striking a professional tone, or something… less?
Remember: As a customer-facing consultant, you’re not just representing yourself; you’re representing your company. There’s a risk we take with every single email we send. Stay positive. Stay productive. Put your best foot forward. Have another consulting tip to share? Meet me in the comments.