Orangeville, ON (James Doan) What’s the hardest thing about marketing? Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

It’s difficult to appreciate viewpoints we don’t have. The same is true for expectations and reactions we don’t share, and decisions we would not make. As a result, disappointments, conflicts and failures take place.

We often fail to distinguish between what people actually want and what we perceive they want.

We forget the extent to which newbies don’t know certain words that we write or speak.

We neglect to appreciate different backgrounds from ours. They can cause different sensory experiences and evaluations.

Sometimes we’re not willing to give up our smug, critical judgments.

Zen masters call the suspension of assumptions adopting “don’t-know mind.” They bring their students there through stories that defy everyday logic. Research and discuss with potential and actual clients. An openness to surprising findings can also help.

What we don’t know that we don’t know about customers harms us. It is also the hardest kind of blind spot to recognize.