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Jul 14

Customers Don’t Need to Know My Problems

Posted by: Steve Marr

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I received some bad news one day and had several business issues pop up at the same time that were very frustrating. Next I had a visit with a customer I knew quite well. I was tempted to share a bit of my tail of woe.  Then, I realized that I should not share my problems with my customer unless there was a direct relationship. For example, if I had production problems that would delay a shipment; it is reasonable to let a customer know about a current problem.  Otherwise I should keep my concerns to myself.


Too often I believe we have a tendency to share our concerns, problems, griefs and other challenges of life. There may be a few that we share on a very personal level; however, this should be the exception not the rule. A good test is to ask yourself, if I left my business situation would this person remain a long term friend? If the answer is yes, I may share more with that individual.  However if the relationship, regardless how friendly, revolves around business and business alone; I need to share personal information with my friends and family and not burden customers with it.

We all have had situations where customers, salespeople or service people unload personal baggage.  I see these times as opportunities to minister. I listen, and when appropriate I may offer guidance if asked.

Sharing our personal difficulties does not help our business relationships. Some years ago I was in the process of listing a house for sale.  I contacted my former real estate agent who had done a good job. In the first 15 minutes of our conversation I learned that “Kevin” was out of town and would likely be gone three months due to illness of a family member. In addition his wife had some significant health issues requiring his time. I asked Kevin how he could represent my property effectively if he wasn't there.  Kevin responded by explaining that most of the business was done by fax, email or telephone. The bottom line is that I made the decision to list the property with another agent primarily because I knew Kevin was not going to be able to dedicate the time and effort needed. I was grateful that I received this heads up.  However, if Kevin had not brought all of his problems front and center; I likely would have used him to list the property which turned out to sell within one week.

King Solomon wrote, “Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” (Proverbs 2:11, NIV) When we allow our personal afflictions and difficulties to inappropriately interfere with business relationships, it may make us feel better personally; however, our business will suffer. We need family, friends and a good church for support during difficult times, not our customers.

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