Loyalty is a good thing. We seek it in all our relationships, and we practice it in return. We want to be loyal and we want others to be loyal to us. The question to ponder here is where might loyalty actually work against you? Specifically where does it have you spending money to be ‘loyal‘ that doesn’t actually align with balancing your self-care with your desire to care for others? And where are you possibly being taken advantage of by companies and associations that rely on your loyalty, even when they haven’t ‘earned‘ it?
It’s a tricky thing. I had a client once who was a major shopper. In truth she was in it for the ‘hunt‘, and had a whole room full of bags of things she’d bought and never used. Many of them she had bought at a particular department store that had ‘given‘ her a credit card with their name on it. She felt really honored and special that they had given her the card. It made her one of the ‘in crowd‘. She went there often, really loved their customer service, and piled up many charges on the card. The card had a much higher interest rate than her other credit cards. She was great at the buying… not so much at paying on time. Oh, and she didn’t want to ‘insult‘ the store by returning things, so she didn’t. It was all about a ‘personal‘ relationship she was imagining she was having with a store. The store was doing its job well. She just wasn’t noticing that she was confusing her personal desire—for relationship—with their techniques of building loyalty. She was stunned when I pointed out that the clerk that was helping her didn’t actually know she had a store credit card until it was time to pay. The clerk was giving good service regardless. And she also missed that no actual person would feel hurt and disappointed if she returned things that she didn’t use.
Together we did get her out of this pattern, but the bigger question this raises is something like “Where are you assuming more ‘caring’ from a company or professional than is really there?”
Yes, every company or pro you work with wants you to keep coming back and using them, myself included! And you need to figure out whether the ‘relationship‘ is really going both ways, or if it is one-sided.
There is something in this mix of our need for actual human connection that is being hindered by the constant pseudo connection of Social Media and cell phones. I recently sat across from a family having lunch at my local Sushi place: Mom, Dad and an about-9-year-old child. All three were on their phones instead of talking to each other. They stopped the phones when the food came, but still didn’t talk.
Maybe it’s just that there is so little actual connection going on that we don’t recognize that the ‘connection‘ we have with the person who cuts our hair isn’t the same as the one with our friend we went to the movies with.
I’m extremely loyal to companies that give me good service for a fair price. And I’m not tolerant and won’t do business with those that are rude. I ‘vote with my feet‘—and do it as a reflection of my values… what I care about. I care about how we all treat each other. I care about fairness. And where I spend my money really does reflect what I’m up to. Am I trying to fulfill some need in a place where it really can’t happen? Or am I really having an exchange that enriches both of us?
The answer is different for each of us. There are things I care about—and might even be ‘extravagant’ with—that mean nothing to you, and visa versa. I’m just wanting to make sure that you are getting what you are seeking, and finding the balancing point—that your time, energy, and money are going toward what you truly care about. Give it a ponder and see what you notice…
Shell Tain, the Untangler
If you’d like some support with the pondering give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.