Why You Need to Learn How to Trust Your Customers

Originally published here for the Institute for Organizational Mindfulness

All service roles require trust, but not in the way you might think. It’s the kind of trust that keeps you both emotionally clean and connected to the true value of your work.

In dealing with customers and clients, you can bring your best, most professional, most helpful self to the moment, but at the end of the day you’re dealing with human beings that will not respond in ways you can predict or control. They’ll interrupt you before you finish giving them a vital piece of information. They’ll do the opposite of what you suggest they do. They’ll ask a question and stare at their phones while you answer, registering nothing.

The trust you need is simple: that someone is doing what is absolutely right for them with whatever you give them. Not “right” according to your criteria of “the perfect service exchange”, but “right” according to whatever they are willing to receive at that moment.

There’s a Japanese code of communication known as Enryo Sasshi. Speakers observing Enyro Sasshi look to respect the intelligence of who they’re speaking to by being as concise as possible, trusting in the intelligence of the listener. Getting interrupted wouldn’t be a problem because that would mean the listener doesn’t need more than what you gave them. It’s an intriguingly selfless way of communicating that has me reflecting on the times where I over-explain or push to get my point across (which are constant). It’s a tremendous release of burden to realize that you don’t need to plant much of a seed for someone to do a lot with it.

This principle is also the antidote to compulsive helping and fixing. To the eager professional, this might feel like better service, but that’s actually just because giving that much just meant they got the outcome they wanted, not the one the client needs. Disentangling yourself from this level of control allows space for clients to own their own successful experience and prevents energy being wasted on frustration, defeat or false beliefs that you failed in some way when things don’t go how you want them to (which is so often the case, right?). You’ll have so much more to give everyone else.

The second layer of trust has to be in yourself – that you fully showed up and did all you can. The rest is up to life, which requires the acceptance that you don’t own the results of your work and cannot predict the radiant effect.

This third layer of trust that life will unfold however it needs to (and definitely beyond your control) may be the hardest to find peace with, but it can also be your biggest source of inspiration. Because you never know the profound value you bring someone. So often I hear later of the good that I did for someone even though I had no sense of that in the moment of trying to help them. How often have you been surprised and delighted with the impact you had? Start to bring trust into your service and these pleasant surprises will happen more often.