Can You Win When They Don’t Listen?

By Sue Voyles / January 4, 2017 /

Sometimes your clients or customers just don’t listen to you – no matter how good your advice or how much experience you may have.

Those of us who are parents know that we’re told to let our kids make mistakes on their own so they’ll learn. But what about our customers? Is it a good idea to let them make mistakes? It’s an interesting thought.


One could argue that when a customer ignores your advice and makes a mistake, they’ll appreciate you more. On the other hand, they may get mad that you didn’t try harder to stop them.

Years ago, I worked with a man who advocated for the win-win philosophy. He believed that when customers or clients “win” by buying from / working with you, then you also come out with a “win.” This was before the term win-win came into common use. Regardless, when I first heard this term, I was still in college and I found the suggestion to be very attractive.

As a PR practitioner, I like to think that clients win by working with us and we win by helping clients get their stories out. Occasionally, of course, clients don’t always listen to our advice and sometimes prospective clients choose not to work with us.

In those situations, I try to figure out a win-win, because:

  • Sometimes the client’s internal politics prevent them from taking our advice.
  • Maybe the prospect will come back another time and turn into a client (that has happened).
  • What I think is a mistake for the client, may not be a very risky thing for them.
  • Sometimes what you think is a mistake actually turns out better than you anticipated.

Ultimately, it’s about honoring the other person’s choice/decision to not listen. And when we do that, it’s usually a win-win for everyone.
–Sue Voyles