It’s often about asking, not about what’s needed.
Years ago, when I lived in California, I’d go to the grocery store nearly every day. I usually paid by check. Each time, the clerk would ask me for my phone number and then write it on the check.
When I ran out of checks, I decided to be clever and had my phone number printed on them. You guessed it, without missing a beat, that same clerk started asking me for my driver’s license number (and yes, I did it one more time, and we moved on to my social security number).
The information wasn’t the point. It was the asking, the time taken to look closely at the document.
It’s tempting to listen to our customers (“why aren’t there warm nuts in first class?”) and then add the features they request. But often, you’ll find that these very same customers are asking for something else. Maybe they don’t actually want a discount, just the knowledge that they tried to get one.
What’s really happening here is that people are seeking the edges, trying to find something that gets a reaction, a point of failure, proof that your patience, your largesse or your menu isn’t infinite. Get patient with your toddler, and you might discover your toddler starts to seek a new way to get your attention. Give that investigating committee what they’re asking, and they’ll ask for something else.
They’re not looking for one more thing, they’re looking for a ‘no’, for acknowledgment that they reached the edge. That’s precisely what they’re seeking, and you’re quite able to offer them that edge of finiteness.
Sometimes, “no, I’m sorry, we can’t do that,” is a feature.
Reblogged from: here