I took my 4-year-old to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese this weekend. The kids played arcade games to their hearts’ content then settled down with their paper mouse ear crowns for a highly anticipated pizza lunch.

“Where’s my pepperoni?” my daughter cried. It was in this moment that I realized my child has never seen or experienced plain cheese pizza (aka the universal favorite for all children). “This pizza isn’t done,” she protested. “They forgot to finish making the pizza. Chase is trying to have a nice party and these people brought out pizza that’s not done and WHY IS EVERYONE JUST EATING IT?!?!”

I explained the notion of delicious cheese pizza to her. We also talked about gratefulness, manners, trying new things, and maybe even just trying her very best to be somewhat cool for 15 minutes until the party was over. She accepted zero of my suggestions and proceeded to yell at all the other children enjoying their cheese pizza. To her, this wasn’t right, and injustice can’t exist in her world.

When lunch was over, she sat down to drink the lemonade and muttered something under her breath about trying the “not-done pizza.”

Then she asked for another slice.

Where am I going with this? Understanding and acknowledging that others may do things differently is crucial in building a successful business and great customer service.

  • Your way isn’t the only way. Find out what others prefer. My daughter had no idea her peers enjoyed cheese pizza. Diverse experiences shape expectations. Assuming everyone shares the same views will quickly lead to frustration and missed opportunities. Have conversations, ask questions, and do your research.
  • Keep an open mind. Acknowledging and embracing diversity will help you expand your customer base. Whether it’s a new product line or social media platform, adopting fresh strategies is the fastest, most effective way to reach new audiences.
  • Be nice. When all else fails, just be nice. We all think and communicate differently. Assume best intentions. When something doesn’t go as you expected, work to understand what happened.

When faced with something “new” in your business or with your customers, take a moment and make a conscious effort to not act like an overtired, pepperoni-loving 4-year-old seeing cheese pizza for the first time. That certainly won’t feel welcoming to your customers, and if you pause and consider a different viewpoint, you may even find something you, and your customers, like.