When I think of the old consulting industry adage, “Consultant Speak,” I can’t help but think of all sorts of humorous examples of what that looks like. Such as, “I just wanted to know what time it is, not buy the watch.” Basically, consultant speak is rhetorical gibberish where so-called experts attempt to baffle the recipient with a series of buzzwords, acronyms, and cerebrally embellished scenarios. It’s when someone or a firm takes straightforward disciplines and complicates the situation.
My dad used to tell me, “Don’t tell me what I want to hear, tell what you think!” He always wanted the real stuff. The candor. As we know, not everyone is open to or receptive to candid speak. They would rather hear only best-case scenarios no matter the situation. I get it. I personally prefer optimism and positivity over “waiting for the other shoe to drop” pessimism. I suggest some middle ground regarding this one. For one thing, consultant speak is never constructive and is a complete waste of time.
So, how do we know when someone is utilizing consultant speak with us? My first suggestion is to ask the consultant a lot of well thought out questions. Their ability to the field those questions and how their answers align with your expectations, should tell you a lot. Again, you need to make sure they are not just telling you what you want to hear. Some consultants can come across impressive, but keenly watch for how their words line-up with their actions.
I’ve had consultants standing in front of me talking very impressively, and I can’t help but think, “Who you are speaks so loud I can’t hear what you are saying,” or as we say in Texas, “You are telling me it is raining, but the back of my leg is getting awful warm.” When I feel this, it’s in my gut, and the reason being, their words and actions just don’t line up. It behooves a client to keep consulting efforts on a short leash until they earn your trust, and even then, always stay close to measurable output of productivity. As with most things, the proof is in results you can measure.