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Familiarity Breeds

by Adam Zack — May 2, 2018

Picture of Adam Zack.

See your familiarity through new eyes.

Most everyone has heard the phrase “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

I have to admit, I never really thought about what it meant. I used it, but not correctly. Defined, it means: “The more acquainted one becomes with a person, the more one knows about his or her shortcomings and, hence, the easier it is to dislike that person.” Personally, I have found that not to be true. For me, familiarity breeds comfort, trust and mutual caring. But I can see where with some relationships, personal and business, familiarity leads to jealousy, resentment and lack of appreciation – all such negative emotions. So I didn’t even start planning this blog with that in mind. Not at all. I was thinking how familiarity – seeing the same thing every day, like the entrance to your store, the display cases, the restrooms – breeds blindness. See the same thing every day and you actually stop seeing it. It takes real effort to see your familiarity with new eyes each time. And it’s not easy. I get to see lots of stores, and when I see things like dirty restroom vents, old and faded signs taped up crookedly in storefronts or hand baskets that have a year’s worth of grime on them I first wonder why the store owner or manager doesn’t see these plainly obvious areas to improve? The customers obviously see it. I realize that it’s familiarity at work. I remember being a kid and leaving a mess for several days and finally my mom had to ask just how many times I was going to walk by it before I was going to clean it up with an analogy something along the line of “if was a snake it would have bit you.” It was familiarity (and laziness, I’m sure) at work. So the real challenge is to see your familiarity through new eyes. Does your media convey your brand? Is your attention to detail better than your customers’? Familiarity may breed contempt, but she wears blinders after a while and if you don’t see her, she’ll bite.

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