Feeling in good fettle the other day at a client meeting, following six-months or so of slow admin and other work necessary to gain the trust of the client, I rather bounced into the meeting room with three highly intelligent and purposeful people and put myself in serious ‘self-check’ mode.
When a lot appears to be at stake in ordinary cash-flow terms, the last thing any of us want to do as writers and communications consultants is to blow the deal by blowing too hard on one’s own trumpet.
One has to remember that in the six-month period of negotiating one’s position, some measure of one’s calibre as a useful tool might have already been gauged.
The real purpose of any first meeting therefore – especially when one is unaccompanied by other members of one’s staff (as a freelance I have only myself accountable for my business) – is to sit as still as possible and let the brief unfold a little.
My only way of suffering the enthusiasm that spills forth is to palliate the serious dedication one has for the client, with humour.
As it happens my trumpet somewhat blew its irrepressible self for the moment at about the time of a question posed to me by my client of the order of “What do you think you will contribute?”.
Flashing out of my head came the reply, unchecked but meant as funny in a way: “I’m the brightest man I’ve ever met”.
Taken out of context this is a pretty peculiar thing to say – there was of course context and I felt very comfortable with my clients at this point.
Yet I still go red in the face thinking of this possibly quite arrogant statement. Thankfully a little reflection helps: such a statement is genuinely funny (at least to me privately) and enlightening in equal parts. For surely, we all are the brightest people we have ever had the pleasure or privilege to meet.
None of us can know the reality of another’s full lives, true intelligence and desire for good outcomes.
These are, I have the faith to say, the default aspirations of all human beings. And perhaps a translation of these virtues might indicate the instinctive modes of all sociable animals. Perhaps they may be read into the life and flows of all flora and fauna – when they are left natural in their own domains.
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