Over the past 4 years, I’ve met a lot of my online friends “in real life.” And, as a sociologist, I’m always curious to see if someone will live up to their online persona.
There are 3 possibilities, right?
I am always delighted when people meet or exceed my expectations and sometimes slightly confused when meeting them is more underwhelming than I expect it to be. When this occurs, I wonder if I have pegged the person wrong or whether the anonymity of being online gives them a confidence that they don’t otherwise hold in face-to-face interaction.
I think it’s important to realize that human communication is never perfect. We are all human and ultimately, we are all messy in one way or another. What is often not “seen” by everyone are the dark thoughts, the sordid history and the pain that belies every single one of us in our lifetime.
From having met a ton of people in my lifetime, no story is really as pristine as the fairytales would have us believe. And frankly, have you really read the fairytales? Even they are full of wicked witches, interrupted destiny and the early demise of most parents.
The difference, communication-wise, between most people, however, boils down to the confidence of the message.
Why is confidence important?
- Confidence illustrates that someone is comfortable in their own skin and with their message,
- Confidence gives an aura of expertise and knowledge, and
- Confidence people make us want to believe that the message and story is real.
Confidence, in the delivery of your message, is entirely under your control. If you haven’t really considered how you deliver your message, consider practicing as often as you can. Meet people, listen to what is of interest to those that you find yourself in conversation with and seek to find something of connection in each interaction.
Remember, relating to others involves a 2-way street which means sharing and listening to what is shared in human interactions. No expects you to be perfect, but they will listen to your message differently if it is delivered with confidence. Intentionally, be confidence this week in at least one interaction and see how others respond.
Sometimes, based on our personal vantage point in social media, we perceive that adoption and use should be easy. After all, it’s easy to write a tweet or post a Facebook status update, right?
But because a person can individually use social media well, doesn’t mean that the key questions are easily answered for businesses who are considering adopting social media. And sometimes, people perceive that small businesses will have a more difficult time using social media as compared to larger organizations.
Size of an organization isn’t always an indicator of the challenges involved. The complexities rest more specifically in these following issues:
- The clarity of the mission and messages involved. Do you know who you are as an organization and can people easily resonate with what you’re doing?
- Are you willing to listen to those who engage with your messages and adapt your communications to their needs or interests?
- Do your social media and marketing folks share an understanding of your risk tolerance…how far are you willing to push the envelope to relate to your audience? Will you keep doing the same things out of comfort even if it isn’t working?
- Are there decisions that you need to consider to minimize or mitigate possible risks in your communication strategy? If you have people in your agency with conservative risk tolerance, have you thought about how to address these concerns in advance?
Some of the conversations and decisions you will make when adoption social media will be tough. You will hear many excuses about why adopting social media may not be right for your organization, particularly if you sit in the risk-adverse organizations or technologically conservative agencies.
It isn’t always easy to adopt social strategies into a corporate culture, but if you know your business and are insistent on relating to others, it can be done.
One of the best strategies in dealing with risk-adverse organizations is simply identifying the concerns of others and listening. Don’t rush to answer every challenge. Step back and truly listen, commit to finding answers (even if you already know them) and allow a reasonable amount of time to pass to address the concerns. Sometimes, just giving those who resist some time to express their concerns and feel heard can go a long way towards chipping away at resistance.
It may not be easy, but it will be worthwhile if you commit to hearing your customers.
Army General Creighton Abrams once said, “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.”
Now, I’m not sure how many elephants you’ve eaten, but frankly, it’s one of the things that has never made my bucket list. There is little context for this famous quote; however, I imagine that it must have been said in the context of war which I’m sure seems as daunting as staring down any elephant in the wild.
When to-do lists, personal change aspirations or projects seem overly daunting, it can feel hard to know where to begin. And when you throw elephants into the mix, have you ever thought about where you’d even take that first bite?
Yes, it’s a crazy analogy and when taken to its literal extremes, I’d venture to guess that no human would dare to actually take a bite of an elephant. Would you? Really?
Now, if we turned that elephant into something that we’d actually want to eat, the analogy makes more sense. So, maybe here is the lesson:
- Forget about the size of the overall project,
- Don’t see an elephant, see something that motivates you,
- Segment your work into smaller, bite-sized chunks,
- Prioritize what needs to be done first,
- Reward yourself for small accomplishments because each step is one action closer to your goal, and
- Give yourself a reasonable period of time to experience and learn from the journey.
Many people see working with social media as that huge elephant. Instead of turning that vision into a large, cinnamon-smothered elephant ear, they run in fear. But, if you endeavor to spend just 5 minutes a day, learning one new thing, eventually you will be surprised at what you know about how to use social media.
Don’t worry about the size of the whole communication spectrum. Start with what you are familiar with. Do you use Facebook personally? Learn a little bit more about using for groups and agencies. Consider how you can take that one area and apply it to your business.
And if you’ll commit one hour a month, you can meet other people, talk about one specific area and improve what you know in leaps and bounds. In the coming week, we have the following fun classes:
- Using Your Free WordPress.Com Blog by Aaron Hockley on June 11th,
- Twitter Basics by Cheryl Bledsoe on June 12th,
- Choosing an Engagement Strategy on June 13th, and
- I’m Too Old for Social Media by Kevin Sur on June 13th.
And, if you’re just starting out in social media, you can take “I’m Too Old for Social Media” for free by using promo code: kevinROCKS.
Whether you are seeking to improve your knowledge of social media or working on training for a marathon, forget the whole elephant. You can do this in an encouraging and supportive environment and we’re here to help. Don’t let the fear keep you running away from your goal. Turn around, face it and take steps towards your target. You’ll be glad you did.
Surely you’ve heard the saying “There is no “I” in team” before. And while there is no specific letter “I” in team, people often dread group projects because of team dynamics.
We’ve probably all sat on one or more teams where either the team got stuck in the storming phase and little was accomplished because personalities clashed regularly or the team never made it out of the forming stage in which to preserve the relationships, they never addressed key communication issues and a smaller percentage of the team accomplished most of the work.
The tricky thing about group dynamics is that they rely on trust which has to be both given and received. In a way, it’s kinda like Twitter, where life is “double opt-in.” It is not enough for a team member to give trust to others. They must, through good communication and achievement of goals, earn trust from those they work with.
But before you can get into a smooth rhythm of team-based work, there are a few things that must be put into place first.
- All members of a well-functioning group must have clear communications about each other’s strengths, skill sets, roles and responsibilities. This ensures that team assignments can be best matched to the skill sets of the team members which can illustrate trust and respect early on in a project.
- Roles should be agreed upon at all levels. This is particularly true of team leadership, if the leader has not been selected or assigned through a formal process. If some, but not all members in a group believes that the group is running on a consensus model where all members bear equal decision-making authority, this can result in significant confusion. There may also be different definitions of what “leadership” truly means in any group. Clarifying expectations among team members can also become more important than you might initially presume.
- The process for decision-making must be agreed upon or clearly spelled out. Conflict is natural and should be encouraged on any good team so that ideas can run through a crucible and end up better for working their way through the group. However, how the group achieves consensus or makes decisions are key to results which the team can live with (even if they ultimately disagree with the decision made).
- When communications falter or needs arise, there must be a clear process for conflict resolution among the team members. Without a clear process for resolving conflict, a team will break down when it comes to trust.
The value in groups is that, collectively, they can accomplish much more when they are functioning well. When teams break down, however, they can become difficult to manage and result in long-term relationship damage that can ultimately harm your brand or agency. Keep your team together by ensuring these basic issues are clear for all involved.