01 April 2006

Things I don't talk about ...

When I was a trainee consultant with Coopers & Lybrand back in the 1980s, I was told that there were two things that you never talked about with clients:
  • hunting
  • religion
These days I would probably add marriage and breakdown of relationships - since very few relationships seem to last and marriage itself isn't as popular. A few months ago I met a client who hadn't been trained by those trainers at Coopers & Lybrand and he was very keen to talk about marriage - his. He didn't ask me if was ever married, still married, happily married or for how long - the answers are yes, yes, yes and 30 years - but he was keen to tell me that his marriage was a model to emulate.

This is a personal shortfall for me - I don't want to know much about my client's personal lives - irrespective of how fascinating I find their businesses. I'm not curious and I feel as if I'm intruding, even if the knowledge is shared freely. It isn't just marriages, I feel the same way about relationships. I realise that this lack of curiosity about personal relationships is unusual. Newspapers would look completely different if everyone thought the way I do.

I can't claim that it results from upbringing since there is nothing obviously different in my background and it isn't age since I know many people my age who find these things endlessly fascinating. Let's just put it down to the fact that in any distribution curve there are outliers and I'm one of them.

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