A Cold Splash of Reality

by Mistina Picciano on January 20, 2009

We arrived at my aunt’s house near Taichung shortly after midnight last Wednesday – roughly 28 hours after a car service picked up my mother and me in Midtown Manhattan. I slept very little on either of our two flights and wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed.

Mom pointed me to the bathroom to wash up and brush my teeth. Along with my toiletries, I grabbed nightclothes. My aunt saw this and went into the bathroom to start a bath.

A warning bell went off.

Yes, I was a foreigner, but I was still a healthy, active adult. Why would bathing require assistance?

When in Rome…

I looked into the bathroom and saw a huge plastic pail in the small bathtub. My exhausted brain was putting two and two together and coming up with seven.

My mother pointed out a pink plastic scoop. “You use that to pour the water over you, remember?”

No, I definitely did not remember that from my trip in 2006. The situation was producing flashbacks of my grandmother bathing me in a steel washtub with a water hose during a visit when I was four.

The bath itself was pretty miserable. I was freezing, tired, cranky… and grateful to have the opportunity to experience my mother’s culture, enjoying the hospitality of family.

It also made me realize how many things we take for granted.

Routine reality checks

Take relationships, for instance. Once we’re out of the honeymoon stage, it’s very easy to take those closest to us for granted.

As business owners and sales people focus on developing new client relationships, we need to maintain the ones we have.

We can’t risk assuming that everything is going well. Instead, we have to reach out and make sure that clients are getting everything they expect – and then some – by asking.

One of two things will happen:

  • Clients will either tell us that they love us – and why.
  • Or they’ll give us an earful of where we’re falling short.

Either way, it’s a win-win situation.

In the latter case, inviting criticism can have the same effect as a cold bath when we’re craving a hot shower. But this is exactly the kind of feedback we need to make our product or service better. It could even rescue a troubled relationship.

And if things are going well? We need to take notes and highlight this – the real value we bring – in our marketing copy.

Often, what we think matters to clients differs from the things they really care about.

But we’ll never know if we don’t ask.

What might you be taking for granted in your business? Or how have you freed yourself from this complacent mindset?

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