How to Use Aikido on Your Customers

You already know that I believe it is not true that the “customer is always right”. Sometimes the customer is wrong.

Sometimes the customer is wrong only about a particular situation or issue; sometimes the customer simply wrong for your business.

An essential business skill is learning how to determine which of these is true with each customer.

But it is also true that the customer does have the power in the relationship. Let’s be real here for a moment. Without customers spending money with your business, you have no business.

Having the power, however, does not mean that a person has unilateral control over the relationship. Power is merely the potential to do work-or in this case, to spend money.

In the martial art of aikido, the general practice is not to overpower opponents in a physical combat. It is, rather, to pay attention to how your opponent is directing the force of their attack. Then to gently, but effectively, redirect that force so that you are actually in control of the power your opponent is wielding.

This has more of the appearance of a dance than it does the appearance of combat.

The very visual is instructive.

While the customer does indeed have the power, you have the opportunity to observe the customer’s movements, to anticipate where they are going, and to encounter them in a way that redirects their attention, their focus, and ultimately their dollars.

This is the ultimate form of respect, and is the total opposite of manipulative marketing.

It requires paying attention to the customer in a way almost all businesses fail to do. When you are involved in doing business with a company that is anticipating your needs, moving to help you before you even realize you need help yourself, and making every transaction effortless, you feel a sense of affinity for them. You feel respected. You feel heard. You feel valued.

Isn’t that what you want your customers to feel about you and your company?

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at