A few days ago, I went to The Writing Center as a client. I was working on a cover letter for a summer internship and I wanted it to be absolutely perfect. I anxiously showed it to my consultant-friend, and she said that what was missing was what I would contribute to the company while working there.
I tried to think of what I could contribute, but I literally couldn’t think of anything. My brain was completely empty. My consultant-friend was patient and kind and helpful. And I felt like she was my personal trainer who kicked my butt during a workout.
The next day, I was consulting a client who had the same problem. She just couldn’t think of anything to write. She was totally stuck. I felt like I was watching myself from the day before. I remembered how I had felt—frustrated, lost, and slightly embarrassed. Being able to empathize with her made me feel like I could be more patient. And remembering how my consultant-friend had helped me made me feel like I could be more helpful.
So, to get up on my soapbox, I hereby announce that all consultants need to be clients every once in a while. For one, it allows you to observe other consultants and learn from them. And more importantly, it reminds you that you are working with people—not robots—who are just like you.