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Wear your heart on your sleeve in social business

December 29, 2011

What does ”being social” really mean, especially in business? Well, businesspeople are people too. You can be personable without being private. Many confuse this and think that if they are not private, they are impersonal. This may not be the right way to connect. When you are personable there is a higher probability that you will connect and get results. Shakespeare describes this well I think; ” to wear your heart on your sleeve” It means to display your emotions, show openness and vulnerability, and appear faithful.

How do you display your emotions openly and why should you in the first place – especially in business? There is a book called ”The five love languages” by Gary Chapman. He describes five different languages we can use when we want to get in contact or recognize the people we would like to connect with. And at the same time show openness and faith. The 5 connection-languages are:

  1. Words of recognition
  2. Acts of service
  3. Gifts
  4. Quality time
  5. Physical touch

This means that everyone has a preferable “connection-language” and tends to use that more than others. However, the receiver may have a different language to you, and here is where we tend to misunderstand or not get connection at all. Let me use an example. Say you want to help an unhappy customer. You decide to offer him or her an act of service. The customers’ language may not be this but quality time, and may expect that you have time available and listen for a while. That person may not feel respected or understood by you if you don’t listen and continue to offer favors. You miss your chance to connect. You feel you have done a lot, and the customer feels he or she has got next to nothing.

Have you experienced something like this?

In social media, communication is about connecting with people to get a win-win value out of it. This applies when you connect on any network like Facebook, Twitter or more professional networks like LinkedIn or Companybook. (Companybook is a new social network for business-to-business). What language do you use to connect, get attention, or to get people to come back?

Here are the languages that you can use to connect. See which ones apply naturally to you and which ones you need to practice more on. The golden key to connect is to use all five languages; switch elegantly between them  and adjust according to the persons needs or to the situation at hand.

1.Words of affirmation

Words of affirmation are all about saying something that makes the person feel seen, recognized, respected or heard. It could be a compliment or a mention of someones name, work or accomplishments. However, Mark Twain  said this about giving compliments: “You should always give a compliment that lasts at least 50 days.” One way to do this is to show gratefulness. People appreciate gratitude more than compliments, and they last a lot longer.

2. Acts of services

To offer some acts of service means you do something for the other person. It could be favors, finding out something, plan something or do some practical chores for the individual. These acts of service require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. If done with a positive attitude, they are indeed expressions of care and compassion. It takes customer service or any business relation to a higher level.

3. Gifts

Gifts can be anything that you would like to give to someone to show them appreciation. It can be a gift card, a bonus, a special offer or simply some digital gifts like in the examples here; digital-gift-ideas. This gift is something that makes the reciever say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or “She remembered me”. A gift is a symbol of thought and compassion. They come in all shapes and colors; some are expensive and some are free. However, to the individual, the cost will matter little. What matters are the thoughts behind, the time spent on it and how personal it is. There is one gift however that is more powerful than most tangible ones; the physical presence in times of crisis. This means that your body becomes the symbol of gift to that individual.

4. Quality time

Quality time means undivided attention. It means to listen with your heart and be yourself when asking questions or giving feedback. The individual will feel respected and cared for if you do this right. Quality time means two individuals sharing their thoughts and feelings. It calls for sympathetic listening with a great understanding for the other persons desires and needs. Quality conversation also means self-revelation. In order for the other person to feel understood and cared for, you must share something about yourself as well. Be open and transparent.

5. Physical touch.

In real life physical recognition means touch. It can be a hug, a clap on your shoulder, or a handshake. Digitally, it is a bit different. For someone with a physical need, this means that they feel what you communicate in their body. In social media this can be giving a thumbs up, smiley face or using a language with physical metaphors. Once in a while when you meet with your business relations outside the digital world, don´t be afraid to give him or her a genuine handshake, a hug or a clap on the shoulder.

So, I encourage you to “wear you heart on your sleeve” and apply these five connection-languages in social media and especially in your business relations. Wait and see what happens, you might be surprised! One thing is for sure; no single area of business affects the rest of business as much as meeting the emotional need for care and compassion.

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