A rabbi on YouTube got me thinking how client relationships are like lobsters.
Renowned psychiatrist Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski posted a short video on how to deal with stress. Rabbi Twerski describes how a lobster grows inside of a rigid shell until the shell becomes constrictive. The lobster feels pressure, discomfort, sheds the shell and grows a new, larger one, which it will eventually outgrow and repeat the cycle.
Rabbi Twerski relates the growth pattern of the lobster to stress that people deal with daily. He notes that stress, like outgrowing the shell, is inevitable; but working through it leads to personal growth. The same is true of our client relationships.
Unlike the old adage, the client is not always right. The client is often wrong, and so is the service provider, and both can be wrong at the same time. Because they don’t want to make waves, however, undisciplined service providers will buy their way out of the dispute with concessions. They rationalize throwing money away saying they are "investing in the relationship."
The cost they assign to it is the amount credited back to the client. The real price is actually much greater because the relationship has failed to grow. In fact, it shrank a bit. The client lost a little trust, a little respect, because the client knows that the service provider had validity in its positions. This behavior also establishes a pattern with the client that, whenever there is a dispute, the service provider will buy its way out regardless of fault.
Instead, use conflict as an opportunity to test and improve your client relationships. The measure of the quality of a client relationship is not how the parties work together when things are going well; it’s how they work together to resolve disputes. In fact, when a relationship successfully endures stress, it grows larger and stronger. More senior people get engaged, maybe for the first time. The parties may see each other in a different light: vulnerable, facing the risk of failure. If we can be transparent, honest and unemotional in our resolution of a stressful situation, we will emerge from under our smaller shell and be ready to grow into a larger one.
To quote Rabbi Twerski: “If we use adversity properly, we can grow through adversity.”
Here is a link to the video: https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aDXM5H-Fuw