5 Questions to Move a Difficult Client Forward

How good are you about generating options?  I mean creating workable solutions to a problem.  Being able to create a list of possible solutions is a very helpful skill.  Especially when you get into a difficult situation like I mentioned earlier.


Don’t Brainstorm

Most entrepreneurs turn to brainstorming.  Ha! Brainstorming is the evil tool of corporate America.  You’ve been in those meetings with the dreaded newsprint trying to ekk out something good.  Totally useless exercise.  Why?

People tend to censor themselves more.  You want to have the ‘right’ answer, the best answer and absolutely positively NOT the wrong answer.  So, all the potential solutions are bunched up around a narrow band of ‘acceptable’ ideas.  Nothing new.  The key is to Imagine Greater as they say on the SyFy channel.  Don’t exclude anything.  Because, sometimes in that totally implausible idea is the the seed of another one that will work.

The other  trouble with brainstorming alone  is that you’re just one person.  The limit is your imagination. The solution is shaped by your values and interests, which might not be the same as your clients. And, frankly, you’re not a mind-reader.  You don’t know what will satisfy your client until you ask.  Scary, ok.  But I’m not leaving you hanging.

Ask instead!

The better way to generate ideas is to ask diagnostic questions.  These are open-ended questions that allow the other person to give a broad response.  For example, how are you is a good diagnostic question. You’ll get the basic info, like I’m fine or frustrated, but you’ll also get an idea of what’s top-of-mind for that person.  The key is that you’re looking for data- wants, concerns, dreams- that you can tap into to meet your clients underlying needs and goals.

What’s an underlying need?  The thing you really want.

Here are several diagnostic questions that get you more information to create options.  You want to ask about two things: what your client wants and what they don’t want.

  1. Why is that important to you?
  2. What would you like to see happen next?
  3. If you had a magic wand and anything was possible, how would you like to see this resolved?
  4. What wouldn’t you like to see happen?
  5. What would you be willing to do to help resolve this?

Your Plan

Your goal is to work together to create a solution that works for your client AND for you.  So, definitely ask yourself these questions, too.  You want to know what you’re willing to do to make things right.

I’m curious…as always. The more ideas, the better.   How do you resolve issues with your clients? 

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