The Art of Consulting – Some Golden Rules

Over the last few weeks I’ve published a torrent of thoughts on the non-technical skills that all consultants need, whether they are working in IT consulting, engineering, law, architecture, or any other profession. These non-technical skills are ones that range from listening and questioning to presenting and managing others.

As we develop as consultants and take on more responsibility the more complex skills of making judgements, managing projects and people become as important as the basic skills of finding things out and writing things down. When I deliver my training course on these non-technical skills I try to set down the content of the course to a set of Golden Rules.

golden rule


A good consultant never talks more than he or she listens.


A good consultant never runs out of questions. Be Pedantic about Detail.

Documenting and Representing

How you structure and represent information depends on your purposes and will reflect your views and argument.


Write simply, without cliché, without repetition, without exaggeration, without the use of jargon.


Make things as simple as possible. (If something doesn’t make a difference don’t include it.)


Tell your client what to do. (Or, putting it less bluntly….Advise.) Remember that you are responsible only for what you can control or should know.

Always admit errors. Apologise. Never lie. Never seem evasive.


Don’t read the bullet points. Be brief.

Say what you will say. Say it. Say what you’ve said.

Above all, do Not be Dull. (If it doesn’t interest you, then it’s certainly not going to interest anyone else!)


Persuasion is most effective when it is quiet and reasonable and acknowledges alternative points of view


Planning is part of every second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year of a consultant’s life. Planning is much more than project planning.


Managing is the art of getting others to want what you want. Managers should manage by agreement, never by command.


The Customer is Always Right. (But not if he is unreasonable. And not if you know he’s wrong. Defend your position when you need to, but do not be defensive.)


If you are a good consultant, your client will want you to be commercially successful. Selling and Consulting are not distinct. Value must be added at every stage of the customer life cycle.

See also:

The Art of Consulting

The Art of Consulting – What’s the Role of the Consultant?

The Art of Consulting – Impartial, Honest and Independent

The Art of Consulting – The Essential Skills

The Art of Consulting – Listening

The Art of Consulting – What’s a Good Question?

The Art of Consulting – Representation and Analysis

The Art of Consulting – Writing Simply

The Art of Consulting – Designing (Completeness & Simplicity)

The Art of Consulting – Designing (Pragmatism)

The Art of Consulting – Designing (Affordability, Flexibility, Maintainability, Elegance)

The Art of Consulting – Judgement

The Art of Consulting – Presenting

The Art of Consulting – The Final Report

The Art of Consulting – Persuading

The Art of Consulting – Planning

The Art of Consulting – Managing Others

The Art of Consulting – Clients

The Art of Consulting – Selling

One thought on “The Art of Consulting – Some Golden Rules

  1. Consulting is More Than Technical Knowledge – Adam Bager

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