Although we are not responsible for what others think of us or what they do, we are responsible for how WE feel and what WE do. If something someone is doing causes us to have an uncomfortable emotional reaction, since it is our emotional reaction in our body & mind, it requires us to ask ourselves this: “What am I doing/not doing, saying/not saying, expecting/not expecting that is causing me to want to blame or be resentful?” Until we ask this very important question, the emotion will not resolve itself. It will continue to color our behavior with others.
As professional service providers, we occasionally forget our depth of knowledge and experience. We unconsciously assume our clients know more than they do about our realm. For example, many consumers today are becoming more savvy and informed prior to engaging in the custom home building process, but it does not mean they understand the process from the business side of things.
For example, what is the impact on your business operation if a client’s indecision and personal schedule causes significant delays in the contracted project time-line? Sure, at first you can absorb a small bit of delay, but then what? Do you find yourself getting frustrated, resentful, blaming, angry, taking things personally? Are you hoping their behavior will change so you won’t have to communicate the ‘uncomfortable’? By avoiding the ‘uncomfortable’ you are placing the responsibility for your success and satisfaction in the hands of others.
It’s important to step back a moment and recognize that the client is operating inside his own world and his action/inaction is not about us! It’s not personal. However, if we are having an emotional response we are taking it personally. It will serve us well to ask ourselves these questions: “Have I educated him enough about the consequences of delays on the project and on my ability to serve him successfully? Being the professional who knows my business, and the process inside and out, have I made assumptions about my client’s understanding of how to best work with my company to accomplish our mutual goals successfully?”
Can we risk the assumption that the client is well informed about the consequences of his inaction on the project, and on our business, if we have not educated them about this in advance? Can we rely on his having heard about the consequences of delays only once, when repetition is how we learn best? We can not. We can only point the finger at ourselves and realize that we have assumed, and acknowledge our error in thinking. In doing so, we recognize that our assumption is our contribution to our own upset. Further, we stand before a great opportunity to better educate our clients, going forward, as a way to be responsible to ourselves and our satisfaction. copyright 2010 Susan Kramer-Pope. All rights reserved.