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I spend a majority of my waking hours speaking with people about why they have accepted or rejected the product or services of a particular company. This is helpful to my clients for a variety of reasons and also gives the lonesome customer who wonders if his voice matters a feeling of being heard. In business parlance, it’s a “win-win.”

I have known for quite awhile that customer feedback is ingrained in my personal behavior. When my family watches a movie, I often ask afterward, “On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate this movie?” This is sometimes followed by, “And how likely would you recommend this movie to your friends?” I have displayed similar behavior in my book club. And so, I can be tiresome, and yes, I deserve all the ridicule — of course done with love, so they say — that comes my way.

I recently realized that my work shapes me in ways I was not fully aware. Specifically, I can’t disengage with a person who has served me without letting him know why. Since we live in an era where behaviors like ghosting have become common, I believe my inclination is at odds with the norm.

My feedback focus became apparent recently when I realized how dissatisfied I had grown with my trainer. I had worked with her for almost two years but needed to slow it down when my business had slowed. She seemed to understand, especially since she is a self-employed trainer who weathers her own financial roller coaster.

But when I began to use her more frequently, I detected a change in her attitude toward me. Instead of coming up with fun ideas and creative exercises, she would start with, “It’s your money, so what do you want?” When I asked her if my form was right in doing a new exercise, she quickly retorted, “What happened to your confidence?” followed by, “I haven’t even had a chance to watch you.”   

Her negativity changed a fun experience into something that left me dispirited. When I shared these thoughts with my daughter, she immediately replied, “You need a new trainer — one that leaves you feeling positive, and there are so many good trainers out there.”

My daughter is right, and I will disengage. But first I will give my trainer feedback. I hope that it might help her with other clients, or at least give her pause for thought. Ghosting her when she next texts me to get on her calendar would be far easier, but it goes against my 11th Commandment, “Thou shall provide feedback.” 

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It is possible that in the angsty moment of conflict, I will question why I need an 11th Commandment. But I will remind myself of the time I let my hair stylist of 20 years know that I was moving on. He had done nothing objectionable other than see me the same way for two decades. The same daughter who counseled me on the trainer had also told me I needed to modernize my look.

The timing was opportunistic, as we were planning a family wedding and a hair stylist had been hired for the affair. What was supposed to be a one-time event-driven relationship turned into my new stylist and a better look. 

While I was dreading the call, I reached my hairstylist who had loyally served me and explained that I was making a change. I thanked him for his service and assured him that it was nothing he did. I just needed a fresh pair of eyes that could see me differently.

To his credit, Jack thanked me for calling him, and told me that usually people jump ship without him knowing. “It is very decent of you, and if you change your mind, my door is always open,” he offered. His response only made me appreciate him more.

Of course, nothing is ever perfect. I went from a quiet stylist who let me drift to sleep while he worked to an animated stylist who wants to know me. I was experiencing a change that was far greater than a haircut. 

The hair stylist and trainer did remind me that at least in the area of customer feedback, I practice what I preach. Given my many other incongruities, this is wonderful news.

Jill Ebstein is the editor of the “At My Pace” series of books and the founder of Sized Right Marketing, a Newton, Massachusetts, consulting firm. She wrote this for InsideSources.com. The opinions are the writer's.

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