When it’s perfectly fine to offend people

Niching means that you should not be all things to all people. It also means that not all people should be for you.

I re-learned this important lesson last week. It began with an email that I received, one that surprised and ruffled me just a tad.

The email stated that a medical practitioner declined to work on a project with me because of my home page video. He feared that his association with me would offend other organizations that he was involved with. And it was not the first time someone told me this.

At first, I worried. I wondered, “Who else might I be offending with my message? What other opportunities could I be missing out on? Should I take the video down altogether?”

Then I stopped.

I remembered a conversation I had with a bright, young practitioner while teaching a class last spring at George Washington University School of Integrative Medicine. He told me that he was afraid to put his picture on his website because he thought it would turn people off. As I searched his charming face for a clue, I told him I didn’t quite follow him.

The young doctor was African American. He worried that people would be reluctant to work with him because of his skin color.

Don’t be afraid to offend

I smiled and encouraged him to dismiss this fear. If people are going to use race as a barrier to coming in, he may as well put that out there, right up front and weed those idiots out as fast as possible. Why would he want a patient like that in his practice – or in his life – anyway? Better to open up the time and space for those who are more enlightened than those caveman types.

It’s true that my home page video is very direct about the most important thing in my life: my reason for doing this work. You can bet that I’m angry about the tragedy that cut short my brother’s life through medical blunders and the subsequent ripple effect it had in ruining the lives of most of the rest of my immediate family. Removing my video based on a fear of “losing out” on a business opportunity would discredit all that I believe in and built my business upon.

Look around and you’ll see the same boring home page message on one site after another. Too many practitioners water down or hide their real voice in public forums. They play it safe and write blog posts and web copy that is grammatically and technically correct but has zero personality or appeal.

Yet your unique message is the very essence of your brand. And – most important – it’s what attracts raving fans to you. Patients want to connect deeply with caring practitioners who have distinction. They are tired of being treated by distant, boring practitioners who keep their egos front and center while hiding their authenticity. Patients want to work with real-life people who have passion, ideas, opinions, faults, and are honest about their journeys and struggles.

Nobody should hide their truth for the sake of pleasing others or gaining financial fortunes. Me included.

Why your practice needs fewer followers

My video is staying put.

I totally respect the doctor who fears associating with me. He must do what is right for him and his reputation. No hard feelings.

He’s simply not right for me.

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Comments (2)

  • Monica

    Great article with a good reminder that not everyone is right for our business even though it is hard to turn people away.

  • Ricki McKenna

    Yea! Miriam. Stick to your guns and feelings. I agree. It’s taken me too long to do that and I now feel if they don’t agree, they are not for me. My passion is to educate and enliven people through natural means; food and as much self responsibility as they are ready to take. And some will be ready – or not – to go that route. There will always be those who don’t agree or who will question or try to discredit our motives, ideas, methods etc. Fine, that may even help us dig deeper and investigate more and improve what we have to offer. Truths will out and the heart knows that.

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