Should I or Shouldn’t I

Catalyst Blog PictureHow should I handle a Request for Consulting from a Friend When I Don’t Agree with What She Wants Me to Do?

Two important issues arise from this question: how to come out friends after walking this slippery slope and how to tell a client, particularly one who is dear to us, that what they want us to do does not sit well with our better judgment.

The situation: A Think Tanker (TT) was asked by a friend who works with recently released felons assimilating back to society to help her scale up a book used as the centerpiece for a small group workshop into a full-fledged classroom training. The TTer felt that the training methodology focused on a book was a poor choice and not as conducive to learning as interactive activities would be. She asked the group for advice on how to navigate this tricky problem.  Some advice:

  • Get data –Do you know the target audience enough to definitively say that this methodology is a poor choice? Find out how the book has been received so far by users/participants. Perhaps there are good reasons for this methodology that you don’t know yet.
  • Educate – Explain the pros and cons of her chosen methodology based on your experience, training, and background. You are the expert so share what you know. Perhaps you can come to a compromise.
  • Be honest – She will most likely appreciate your best feedback. Your friendship will likely be stronger because of it.
  • Choose your reputation – If your reputation will come into question later if you follow through with this request, think twice. Do you really need the work? Ask yourself how it will affect me in the future if I follow through.
  • Make the relationship official – Be frank with your friend and if you can work out a methodology you both can live with, formalize the relationship. Create a contract. Document what you will do and won’t do.


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