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Is comfort overrated?

By Adrian Knowles
19 February 2024 | 13 minute read
adrian knowles harcourts reb kzdjhi

Establishing client relationships is a crucial first step, but the real challenge lies in maintaining them. When you become too complacent and comfortable, before you know it, six months will pass by, and you will have lost touch with the people you’ve built connections with.

And that’s all it takes for another agent to step in, gain their trust, and break the chain of your connection. You will no longer be their go-to or trusted adviser. In this context, “out of sight, out of mind” holds more weight than absence makes the heart grow fonder”. It doesn’t. It simply leaves you forgotten.

Comfort breeds complacency: The erosion of client relationships

As professionals, we are often lectured on the importance of forging strong connections with our clients. The art of rapport-building, the finesse of selling without appearing to sell these are the cornerstones to a successful career. But as compelling as the initial bond may be, Ive come to understand that comfort, that sweet, inert state of being, is the silent killer of client relationships.

In the relentless motion of the business world, comfort breeds complacency. And complacency, in turn, becomes the undoing of many a hard-won client relationship.

The danger of comfort

Initial connections are not where the battle for client loyalty is won. The real challenge lies in the months and years after that first handshake. It is easy to become too comfortable, too sure of the rapport already built. Yet, this sense of security often leads to a neglect that is insidiously fatal to the relationship.

How often have you let moments of silence turn into weeks of non-contact? Or perhaps you’ve thought, “they know Im here if they need me,and youve let opportunities to engage slip by. The reality is, when you rest in your comfort zone, you risk losing touch.


Clients, like anyone else, have their attention pulled in a myriad of directions. When you no longer occupy a space in their immediate sphere, you become an afterthought, or worse still, you become forgotten.

Maintaining client connections

The knowledge that comfort poses a danger isnt enough. Its the proactive effort that sustains a client relationship. Staying engaged isnt just about making calls or sending emails; its about being genuinely present in the clients world, understanding their evolving needs, and showing them that youre attuned to those changes.

It may seem obvious, but it is often the obvious that we overlook. Small gestures can be tremendously reassuring. A prompt response to an email, a call on their birthday, an occasional check-in meeting these seemingly mundane acts continually reinforce the connection youve worked so hard to forge.

The client, by nature, is looking for solutions. They want to know that you not only have them, but that youre thinking about their challenges, even when theyre not on the phone with you. Nurturing a client relationship is akin to tending a garden; its a continuous process of growth and adaptation.

The impact of complacency

When comfort turns to complacency, the erosion begins in earnest. The little cracks that form become chasms when youre not looking. Each missed opportunity to engage is like a note of discord in the symphony of your professional relationship.

The clients who you thought you knew so well begin to evolve without you. Their business has changed, their needs are different, and before you realise, youre offering yesterdays solutions to todays problems. Trust, that most precious commodity, becomes diluted. After all, why should they trust a professional who seems to have lost touch with their business and their needs?

Loyalty, once fostered through your diligence, is easily shattered by the fresh face of a competitor. They are not encumbered by the memories of yore; they are a blank slate onto which the client can project their fresh hopes. In the clients eyes, you have become the comfortable, perhaps even predictable, old guard.

Overcoming comfort

It would be remiss to warn against comfort without providing a route to overcome it. The solution is simple, if not easy. It requires a continuous effort to understand that a relationship, professional or otherwise, is dynamic. As with all things that move, to stand still is to fall behind.

The first step is to accept that comfort will naturally arise. It is a by-product of successful interactions. The challenge is to resist the seduction of inertia. Continuously seek improvement. Analyse what youve done before and think about what more you could do now.

Find new angles to present services, keep abreast of developments in your client’s industry, and be the first to offer insights on how your clients business world is changing. Remember, its not only about what you can do for them, but how well you can adapt to what theyre currently going through.

Complacency is not simply the absence of effort; it is the birthplace of negligence. And in the game of professional relationships, neglect is unforgivable. My message is clear: stay vigilant. Dispel the notion that simply ‘being around’ is enough. Comfort is not synonymous with stability; in reality, it is the seed of instability.

In a world where the next best thing is always around the corner, its imperative to avoid resting on past laurels. Make calls, schedule meetings, keep the lines open. More than anything, don’t let silence become the echo of lost opportunities. Embrace the fact that the best client relationships are the ones that you work hard to keep, not the ones you assume are secure.

So, be present. Be engaged. And always, always be active in your client relationships. Their loyalty depends on it.

Adrian Knowles is the CEO of Harcourts Australia.

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