Clients are Not Idiots

Ever gone to a store or a doctor and been treated like you’re an idiot?

Say a dentist lecturing you on how you must floss 12 times a day and spend at least two hours doing so? 

Or a business professor who never started and ran a business on his own telling you how to run yours. 

My wife, who transformed thousands of children who hated reading into enthusiastic and fluent readers had to deal with a troll who said reading comes naturally and that kids magically pick it up. 

This troll had no track record to speak of except the “research” of three of her fellow travelers who never stepped into a classroom. 

It’s a good lesson for us to remember that our clients aren’t idiots just because they don’t know our specialty as much as we do. 

And because the primary mission of our business isn’t the main focus of how they spend their day. 

So many specialists when they speak to customers, can often subconsciously treat them as children – valuable and useful but kind of stupid. 

It’s why some doctors will often come off impatient with your questions, especially those they heard frequently from others. 

What’s concerning to you is annoying to them as they have had to answer your question for the 152nd time that week. 

And so they let you know that indirectly – and sometimes more direct. 

The curse of knowledge is not just with doctors. 

I had a friend tell me that the main reason why she does not hire a business advisor or consultant is because she doesn’t want to feel like an idiot. 

And so that is a real warning for all of us. 

That just because we’re experts in our own areas, we should not assume that people who are not experts, are somehow less intelligent, or should be treated as children. 

In my specific instance, when I work with clients, the one thing I try to get across is that they know their business better than me and so I’m not here to tell them how to run it. 

In fact that they should be congratulated on starting and growing a business and accomplishing what they have. 

Now, yes, we’re in a place where they need to enhance or replace their playbook to transform the business into a more lucrative, easier to run, and ultimately more sellable asset. 

But that is no reflection on who they are or what they’ve accomplished so far.

In fact a good advisor learns a great deal from each engagement. 

So avoid the curse of knowledge. 

Avoid judging a customer for not knowing more about a specific topic that we might be experts in. 

No point in coming off as jerks and turning people off left and right. 

But rather, respect and build their trust in you as a trusted advisor to help them accomplish the success and transformation they desire. 


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