“I act as the tongue of you,
It was tied in your mouth . . . . in mine it begins to be loosened.”—Walt Whitman
As my favorite poet, the American Walt Whitman says in his long poem, “Leaves of Grass“, the writer’s job is to speak. But this speech is not necessarily solely personal speech. Whether as a poet or in a professional capacity, a writer speaks for you. Or, more accurately, a writer should use his or her talents and experience to help you to recognize what you meant to say all along.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of what I do is that moment when I elicit a gleam of recognition in a client’s eye, when they themselves have suddenly uttered their own well-formed message. They recognize it even as they say it for the first time. So, though I’m not fond of the term, “coaching” is a big part of what I do.
It would be a bit beyond belief to maintain that a communications consultant should, like James Joyce‘s artist, be “within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, paring his fingernails.” But there is a need to harnass and master your ego. After all, your product should not present your views on a subject, but that of your client. Projecting your own opinions onto a situation is analogous to making a suit according to your own measurements. In all but the most unusual situations, it is very unlikely to fit comfortably.