What started as a joke early in the week became a phrase I rallied the team around. Act Natural. Too often, we get caught up in our heads, worrying about how a client will react to a conversation or a co-worker to feedback. We enter the interaction full of anxiety. We stumble over our words, and in the end, we create the reality we hoped to avoid.
There were moments last week when I saw myself heading down this path. But it wasn't until I saw others in the same boat that I recognized the pattern. "Act natural" was a fun catchphrase to say lead with confidence, enter situations with poise. Offer recommendations, not options.
In one instance, we discovered that a client needed to upgrade one of their accounts to launch the work we completed for them. Without understanding all of the features yet, we didn't know this at project onset. The team was concerned that the client would be unhappy with the price of upgrading and started concocting a Plan B, which required compensating hours and rebuilding the work. In the end, we held off on sharing Plan B; instead, we recommended the upgrade and explained the long-term benefits. The client was understanding and agreed with our recommendation.
I look back on this situation and can't help but cringe when I think of what might have happened if we ran with our Plan A/B approach. We'd take responsibility for an issue that wasn't an issue. Not to mention, we would have overwhelmed the client with options. Sometimes, it's easy to forget that clients hire us to be their guide. We mean well when we give options, but options put the onus on the client. They often want to say yes or no and move on.
I'm not suggesting that we should not have a backup plan if a situation goes awry. However, there's a difference between having a backup plan and entering situations expecting the worst. Act natural. Remember that everything happening is happening. Act with current facts, not where we once were, to provide a path forward and shape the desired future.