Our Blog Excerpts Savings Contact


Dorset House Publishing
High-Quality Books on Software Engineering and Management.  Since 1984.
dorsethouse.com > features
Features       Excerpts       Interviews


iDH Sign-Up

Get Our e-News
Delivered by FeedBurner


by Virginia Satir

Adapted from The Secrets of Consulting. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. See below for copyright notice.

Reading The Secrets of Consutling is a very special experience. The book appeals to my sense of humor, my awareness of human foibles, and my knowledge of how human systems work. Most especially, this book enlarges my view of how change takes place, of how a consultant in any context can become more effective.

It is profound in its meaning and humorous and colorful in its presentation. Jerry Weinberg's style is such that he shares his experiences and knowledge with me; I feel inspired, rather than defensive. As I read, I can identify with the people and the problems he describes, and I take pleasure in laughing at myself and in learning from the situations that apply to me.

The Secrets of Consutling is far more than a consultant's handbook. It is actually a book about how people can take charge of their own growth. As a family therapist, I've found it helpful to understand people's behavior and the relationship between consultant and client by relating it to our birth into this world, an appearance into an unequal triad: father, mother, child. The father and mother are supposedly grown, and the child is totally dependent on the adults. What we learn from birth to adulthood is related essentially to this; although much of what we learn is unconscious, it gives us both our feelings about ourselves and about our importance to the world. It also gives us skills for coping, which can be augmented by consultants.

Unconscious or not, our basic childhood learnings still operate, whether we're in the role of client or consultant. Jerry Weinberg often gently teases the reader, as well as himself, about some of these powerful unconscious lessons that get in the way of our hoped-for results. For example, every one of us needs approval and open recognition of success: "Look, Ma, no hands," says the proud son while riding his bicycle, hoping Mama will smile. When Mama doesn't, the child's need is unfulfilled and, as an adult, he may still look for that smile, but in the wrong context.

Further, many of us still dance between the wish and need to know and the fear of rejection that might come from revealing our needs. "After all," we think to ourselves, "if I am smart, I should know everything already and be able to handle every situation well. If I don't, it is a sign of my weakness, stupidity, perverseness, or incompetence. Acknowledging such flaws would be intolerable." When this interpretation is made, most of us play games, either hiding our true feelings or projecting them onto someone else: thinking, for example, "I don't need you. And if it looks as if I do, it is probably because you are at fault."

Giving help, offering new ways to cope, is the consultant's job; but in order for the consultant to succeed, the job needs to be framed and approached with just that dance in mind. By asking for the consultant's help, the client is saying, sometimes nonverbally, "I need you. I can't say so directly, so find a way to help me without destroying my sense of worth." The wise consultant answers in a way that recognizes the client's self-worth, but also doesn't compromise his own. Otherwise, no real or lasting change can take place.

As the wise consultant, Jerry Weinberg illustrates this key point in many different contexts. He points to effective and interesting ways to approach the dance, and always praises the client who knows when and whom to ask for help as a mark of greater intelligence than as an admission of incompetence. In this context, both client and consultant grow in learning and strength, and everyone feels good.

After all, aren't the secrets of consulting basically what growth, competence, and good human relations are about? Namely, that we feel good about ourselves and about others, and that we experience our hopes and goals being fulfilled.

Virginia Satir
Director of Training
Avanta Network
Palo Alto, California

October 1985

AddThis Social Bookmark Button




COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This excerpt from The Secrets of Consulting [ISBN:0-932633-01-3] appears by permission of Dorset House Publishing. Copyright © 1985 by Gerald M. Weinberg. All rights reserved. See http://www.dorsethouse.com/books/soc.html. The material contained in this file may be shared for noncommercial purposes only, nonexclusively, provided that this Copyright Notice always appears with it. This material may not be combined with advertisements, online or in print, without explicit permission from Dorset House Publishing. For copies of the printed book or for permissions, contact Dorset House Publishing, 1-800-342-6657, 212-620-4053, http://www.dorsethouse.com, info@dorsethouse.com, New: 3143 Broadway, Suite 2B, New York, NY 10027 USA. Additional rights limitations apply, as presented in the Legal Disclaimer posted at http://www.dorsethouse.com/legal.html.



New:3143 Broadway, Suite 2B  New York, New York 10027  USA
1-800-DH-BOOKS or 212-620-4053, fax 212-727-1044
Copyright © 1996-2008 by Dorset House Publishing Co., Inc. All rights reserved.
Home | Blog | Savings | Stores | Features | Titles | Authors | Subjects | Orders | About | Contact | Legal