Some years ago, when I got back from a golf weekend with my buddies, Sylvia asked, “What did you talk about?” I responded: “Guys don’t talk. They either comment on shots or sports, or they insult one another.” (This is not a trait that men ought to be proud of, but it is true, at least in my experience.)
When I mentioned this to a gal at the office, she said, “One reasons why it is so important for women to have women friends is that they listen and have compassion. When a woman tells a problem to a man, he always offers a solution, which may or may not be what the woman wants to hear. WOW! What insight, I thought!!
As any good father would do, I immediately called our son to tell him of this profound thing I had just learned. He, too, was a consultant at the time, and wondered out loud whether we couldn’t apply this new lesson to our practices.
For example, if a client says, “we’re not meeting our sales quotas” rather than offering solutions or methods that the client can try, we might say, “Gee, that’s too bad. How do you feel about it? I remember when I was a sales manager and used to worry about sales effectiveness. It was a lousy, empty feeling. I have great empathy for you.”
I never had the guts to try it though, even though on some occasions that might be just what the client needed.