By Gordon S. Hecht, Serta Simmons Bedding

While some people love the summer and others can’t wait for winter holidays, for me fall is the best time of the year. Warm days, chilly nights, and it’s hard to beat the vibrant colors of the trees as summer green turns to autumn red, gold and brown.

Color is an interesting concept. Some experts believe that we see the hue that is missing, meaning a green leaf is really comprised of every color except green – and that is what our eyes pick up.

We don’t all see color the same way.  In fact, women have 20 times more names for colors than men have and, taking that a step further, 8 percent of the male population is colorblind compared to 0.5 percent of women. Colorblindness refers to seeing colors differently, or not at all, compared to the general population. What we see as green or brown may appear as grey to those who are colorblind. They see the same things as us, but their minds interpret it differently.

In our own retail world, many of us suffer from a type of colorblindness – we see things differently than our customers and co-workers do.  And just as a colorblind driver may misinterpret a red light and zoom through an intersection, we may also enter the danger zone when we don’t see things the same as shoppers and colleagues. Here are some examples:

We see: A $599 product as a cheap, entry-level item.

What the shopper sees: “Wow, $599. Prices sure have gone up since my last purchase.”

We see: $70 mattress protectors and $100 pillows as sleep necessities.

What the shopper sees: “I am already over my max budget and this salesperson is pressuring me to spend more.”

We see: A clean store that’s tagged, organized and ready for business.

What the shopper sees: Fingerprints on the door, dust on the floor and more sale signs than beds.

We see: It’s going to be a long day at work – I think I will wear jeans and bring a book.

What the shopper sees: “This person is supposed to be an expert? He looks like a deliveryman.  And I feel like I am interrupting his reading session.”

We see: What an offer! Free financing, free delivery, $100 off every mattress and free adjustable bases. It can’t get better than this!

What the shopper sees: “No rush to buy. When’s your next sale?”

We see: I need to drum up business. Let’s run a Moonlight Madness Sale next Saturday.

What your sales team sees: “How am I going to explain this to my husband/wife/kids?”

These days it seems harder than ever to see the other person’s point of view. We are so used to seeing things our way for so long that it becomes the only way!

But interpreting what you see can be a learned and trainable behavior. At an intersection, colorblind drivers don’t look for a red or green light; they associate the top light as “stop” and the bottom light as “go.”  And just like many of us, the middle light means “go really fast!”

You can train yourself to look at things differently by recalling how you felt in similar situations.

  • How do you feel when you shop for an infrequent purchase and are shocked by prices? 
  • When you purchased your last TV or appliance, did the salesperson explain the extended warranty so that it made sense and had value?
  • Would you rather shop in a clean, modern business or a place that looks “lived-in”?
  • Do you expect your server in the restaurant to wear a uniform and have clean fingernails? How would you feel if he didn’t?
  • When shopping for a car, are you impressed that the dealer offers 72-month financing and that the price is $10,500 off list? Or do you feel like you can still haggle for a better deal?
  • How sad or disappointed are you when you have to suddenly change long-awaited plans because of unforeseen events?

Understanding how other people see things is the first step toward retraining your perception; acknowledging their observations and feelings is second. Reaching agreement by explaining your vision and finding common ground is the last step.

See things that way, and you may be seeing a lot more sales and a lot less conflict.

Gordon Hecht is Senior Regional Manager/Strategic
Retail Group at Serta Simmons Bedding.
You can write him at