Absolutely Convinced

In which we are reminded that many clients are motivated to buy more by fear of failure than by positive benefits of change.

“The airport is quiet this evening,” I thought turning left out of gate 25, heading toward the Terminal C lobby.  Jet Blue had delivered me safely home again, arriving on time at 7:40 pm, 26 hours after my departure the day before.  I felt tired… the flight home had been a bit bumpy and I hadn’t slept well or very long the night I was away.  I wanted to get home, clean up, and go to bed. Period.

But first, a fluid level adjustment. Walking through the south end of the cavernous, empty Terminal C Lobby past the food court, I headed toward the restrooms just past the sign for gate 41.  Looking up, I spotted the “men” sign and walked past it through the well-lit doorway in front of me.

Like the main lobby, the place was empty.  When I reached the end of the entrance hallway I was amazed.  Instead of the usual “men’s room” set up, there were rows and rows of stalls. “Huh!”  I thought, “finally the airport is taking privacy seriously for men.  This is great.”

Squeezing myself, my suitcase, and my briefcase into and out of a stall, I headed to the sinks to wash my hands.  I was just finishing when, in the mirror, I saw two women walking toward me, down the entrance hallway.

“That’s odd,” I thought. “Either they’re in the wrong restroom or Boston has suddenly gone unisex.”

I turned away from the mirror toward them. They looked at me, sideways, and continued their conversation as they turned to their right toward the stalls.

Suddenly realizing I could be spending the next couple of hours answering airport police questions, I blurted, “I’m in the wrong rest room, aren’t I?”  Without breaking stride, the woman closest to me nodded her head ever so slightly.

“Thank you for not screaming,” I thought; I quick-walked my retreat to the main hallway.

Once on neutral ground I looked for my mistake. Simple enough. I should have turned hard left into the men’s room rather than continuing straight… chalk that error to fatigue and intense task focus.

And yet, I had been absolutely convinced I was in the right place until the last few moments.

So, why am I telling you this story?  Because, dear friends, our clients have moments like these, many of them not so quickly or easily resolved.  They interpret their circumstances as they see them, they are convinced they are right, and presentations about facts or potential benefits of change will not persuade them otherwise.

Had you popped up and told me, “Hey, it would be better for you if you were in the other rest room,” I would have told you, “Heck, no, Logan has finally given me some privacy.” Even when confronted with unmistakable walking evidence that I was in the wrong place, I continued for a few moments to think that I had it right and that the two women in the entrance hallway had it wrong.   It wasn’t until I grasped the possibility of uncomfortable conversations with the cops that my interpretation changed.

Likewise, our “I’ve got it right” clients will reconsider or shift their viewpoints only when  they see for themselves the unpleasant outcomes that could result from their persisting, unwavering, with their points of view… and it’s an important part of our job to show them those unpleasant outcomes.

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