bill mccreary image from nhl.com

some nights in hockey — especially if your team has a reputation — referees will blow the whistle a little more than usual. it just happens that other games are merely called tight with little room to interpret the rules. whatever the cause, you never want to have your players cutting ruts to the penalty box.

on the bench during those kinds of games, there’s a common saying that gets passed around among coaches and players: “don’t give them an excuse to put you in the box.” it’s a simple message. even if what would normally not be called an infraction earns you a 2 minute trip to the sin bin, as a player you have to be smarter than that and adapt. you can’t give the referees any excuse to call you for it. keep the sticks down, keep both hands on your stick, and watch the play along the boards.

business can be much the same with clients instead of referees. some might love everything you develop for them or the kinds of services you provide, but others may be insatiable still and find flaws with anything you bring to bear. if you know you’re dealing with the latter, follow the same simple rule: don’t give them an excuse.

don’t give your clients a reason to question the validity of your statements; be sure to_practice_ each and every one of your presentations and always perform the proper amount of due diligence in defining answers to their questions.

don’t give your clients a reason to believe that your products are broken; test, retest, and test some more until you’re absolutely certain that your products or services are programmed properly, or mathematically sound, or have multiple research studies to support them.

don’t give your clients a reason to feel like they can go elsewhere and get the same service; go out of your way to prove your organization’s commitment to them by answering their phone calls promptly, replying to their emails the same day, and generally making them feel like you give a damn about them as customers.

if you’re dealing with a difficult client, don’t complain if they’re bitchy or a hard-ass or they’re calling bad penalties. just don’t give them an excuse to call one in the first place.