There are some hardliners that believe ROI rules the world. They are able to isolate the world of business from all other aspects of life. For them, good ROI means good business. But I am not one of those people. Am I a pushover? No. But I believe business is an aspect of life, and anything that intertwines with life – with how we live – with whom we live – does not always fall into succinct, business categories.

I was talking with my dad the other day and he said, “You know what you are? You’re an old couch. You make people feel comfortable.” The more I thought about this, the more I liked it. And the more I liked it, the more I smiled. BOOM. That was the moment. That was the moment I felt good about my work.

Remember – “listening is more important than fixing.” For me it’s not as important to fix clients’ issues as it is to understand their concerns. Understanding goes much farther in a relationship than always trying to come up with solutions. ROI is solutions based business – and there IS a time for such business. But when your desire to solve trumps your desire to understand, you have bypassed the human element and merely become a business machine. Machines wear out and can be replaced, but wisdom will always be needed.

Regardless of your tweets, your likes on facebook, or your sales results, eventually clients return to THEIR comfort level. At this time, the focus shifts from “Who is bringing in the most business?” to “Who will I want to do business with in the future?” Again, the first is based on ROI, while the latter is based on relationships.

It’s great to be a sledgehammer – breaking down client barriers and forging a new path. But at some point it’s wise to put down the hammer and listen.  It’s difficult to hear over a construction site.  Don’t be afraid to lose a sale in lieu of a lasting relationship.

If you find yourself always with a hammer in hand, perhaps it’s time for a reassessment. Do you need a break? Does the client? Maybe it’s time you both got comfortable and found a couch.

Stephen Palacino