As we continue to discuss consulting communication, we turn towards venting.  This topic includes negative communication as well.  To be clear, negative is not the same as disagreeing.  You can stay positive while communicating a disagreement.  We are held to a higher standard when in a consulting role and we should always remember that fact.

Consulting Communication Stays Positive

It may seem difficult or even impossible, but any professional communication you make as a consultant should be positive.  Think of some classic wording approaches like problems are just challenges or even opportunities.  Rather than highlight a negative you want to remain focused on providing solutions.  It will not help your perception as an impartial skilled observer when you dip into frustration or personal attacks.

Everyone Else Is Doing It

I think most of us are comfortable enough with keeping our written communication positive.  However, when we are hanging out with a team or other informal discussions, this becomes more difficult.  It is not uncommon to be in a situation where someone is comfortable enough with you as a consultant to vent or “air dirty laundry.”  These situations may draw you into joining in on the rants.  Unfortunately, you are still an outsider of some sort and held to that higher standard.  If you want to help yourself avoid tricky situations, then you need to avoid joining in on these sessions.

You do not need to walk away, but instead quietly listen and maybe even add a positive twist on the situation where possible.  It may sound insulting, but you need to be the “adult” in these situations.  I am not saying the people venting are childish but instead that you want to stay a calm voice of reason.  Even if you agree with them 100%, you still want to focus on staying positive and finding solutions.

Learn more in the book written for Develpreneurs at any stage in their progress:


Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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