Yesterday I posted this statement on Twitter: Politics and Religion are the two worst reasons to lose a client. I inadvertently touched off some controversy. (funny how a post that was designed to discourage controversy could do so!) People feel passionately about these things, so I guess I’m not all that surprised. Rather than try to have the discussion in 20 words or less, I’m posting some thoughts here with the knowledge that many may want to weigh in with their own.
First off. Let’s review the statement. Considerate a postulate. (the kernal for a debate). The statement was: Politics and Religion are the two worst reasons to lose a client. Let’s take that apart a little...
I did not say that politics and religion are the dumbest ways to lose a client. There are, without a doubt, many dumber ways. Bad customer service, failing to listen and react to what your clients are telling you (and not telling you). Bad business practices, etc. These are all dumb. However, most smart people avoid these methods for losing customers. It is when our passions engage that we sometimes do things we don’t mean. Like giving people with different passions the impression that we don’t want to serve them because they don’t look or act or think (or worship) like us.
There are people for whom this is not true. There are people who actually think they are right and frankly they may be. These people seem to want to convince the world of their rightness, either so they can convince the world to go their way or just because it feels good to be right. I’m neither that smart nor that solid in my personal convictions. I guess I’ve decided that it’s more important for me to just be the best me that I can be and let others do that too. It is not for me to wag my finger and say they’re wrong. There are lots of folks who seem perfectly ready to step into that role.
Understand also that this does not apply to legalities. When preference crosses a line of legality it is for any contributing member of a society to step up and say, hey, that’s wrong. But when that line is the grayer line of religion or the extremely murky and highly polarized world of politics, I simply prefer to leave the argument to others.
So for me, Politics and Religion are the worst reasons to lose a customer. I don’t feel that I am superior to someone who chooses to believe different things. Therefore I don’t feel that someone who chooses to believe different things is inferior. Why then would I want to put something out there that causes someone to be uncomfortable with doing business with me because their convictions and mine may not line up? Isn’t it better to serve them as a client, treating them with respect and dignity, then to attack something about which they may feel passion? In attacking the thing it is far too easy for the person themselves to feel attacked and it is then that it is likely that any chance for a client relationship is severed.
It is true that politics and religion are about principles. There are those who seem to stand very firmly on their own. I actually do too. It’s just that one of my principles is a deep respect for the sanctity of each person’s experience and the knowledge that finding one’s way is hard enough. I would much rather help those who need it by setting an example through who I am then try to do so through words and phrases born in byte sized chunks over the ether.
So that’s what I was trying to say... I know there are those who feel much differently. I respect that too. If you want to lose clients because of your passions about politics and religion (“if they don’t think the way I think I don’t want to serve them”) more power to you. In that case, then for you politics and religion definitely wouldn’t be the worst reasons to lose a client...