Are You Renting Customers Space in Your Head?

February 11, 2013

One of my favorite ideas is the concept of letting people “rent space” in your head. The idea is based on the premise that people only have power over our emotions to the extent that we allow them to.

If someone cuts you off in traffic, do you…

  1. Shake your head but assume the person has something important going on,
  2. Think the person a jerk but let the feeling pass as quickly as the incident did, or
  3. Get angry and stay angry, so that you are twice as mad when the next person does something to displease you.

If you chose answer 3, that is a perfect example of allowing someone to rent space inside your head.

Are You Renting Customers Space in Your Head?

Customer interactions are person to person, meaning they are infused with meaning, subtext and emotion. Yet, professionalism in customer care is defined by not reacting emotionally, by responding with an even, solution-oriented approach.

Easier said than done, of course.

We are all human. People will push our buttons. We will take offense, get angry, and even feel discouraged that someone could behave the way our customer just did. The question is how long will that feeling last, and more importantly, will that person still be camped out in your head when you interact with the next customer?

We have all heard the old adage: Fool me once, shame on you… Fool me twice, shame on me.

When you allow your last difficult customer to take up residence in your brain, then the next customer just becomes an extension of that person. Your outlook becomes… Been fooled once, shame on me, but there’s no way I’m getting fooled again.

When you begin every customer interaction with your guard up, a successful customer experience is generally not the end result.

Time for an Eviction Notice

Think about the sign on your brain. Does it read No Vacancy? Well, sometimes it should.

Renting Customers Space in Your Head | Retro No Vacancy Sign

You see, when you allow difficult customers to rent space in your head, they tend to take up space that could be used for more empowering customers — and worse, they tend to attract their own kind. It’s a version of what is known in psychology as confirmation bias. The more negative customers you allow in, the more tend to show up — because they all confirm the underlying belief that allowed them entry in the first place.

The decision to let negative or difficult customers rent space in your head is yours and yours alone. You can choose to move on, you can choose to transcend pettiness, and you can choose to simply let it go.

Of one thing I am certain, once you kick these negative tenants out, you will find that you like who comes to live in your head a lot better.


PS. One of my favorite scenes from the Rocky series, brilliantly delivered by Tony Burton. Apollo Creed is obsessing about a rematch because of fans claiming he did not win the first fight. Duke (his trainer) tries to convince him to let it go.

10 thoughts on “Are You Renting Customers Space in Your Head?”

  1. Oooh! I’m definitely guilty of this from time to time – more from the every day life aspect than clients. But, it rings true in that regard too. That is why I say I like to work with people I enjoy and businesses I believe in.

    Definitely a good reminder – for business and in life.

    1. I’m the same way Laura. It’s more challenging to maintain this outlook when I don’t have my professional face on. It’s easier to depersonalize in business.

      The good news is that the moment we realize we’re doing it; we can consciously change it.

  2. Well said, Adam. Every interaction creates an imprint. Dispassion helps us let go of those imprints. Let us save our passion for the imprints we want to retain…

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  4. many times we’re not even aware that we’re “renting out space” as you say. We walk around with past energies that no longer suit us. Once we’re aware of it, we can more easily push ourselves to transcend and let go. love this post, Adam!

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