“Candor is a compliment; it implies equality. It's how true friends talk.” – Peggy Noonan, Born Sep. 7, 1950.
In times past, social interaction required a facade of formality. Especially in a business context.
Gentlemen wore suits of clothes, and exchanged handshakes and cards and engaged in small talk, followed by queries and responses about family. Then business, negotiations, etc.
Maybe, if things went well, after hours, drinks would be had. Coats removed. Ties loosened. Sleeves rolled up. Language becomes looser. And finally… candor can be shared.
And when you can speak with candor, you make friends. Everyone loves someone who can confidently speak their own mind. It makes them feel empowered and encouraged to follow suit. Masks removed. Trust is gained, rapport is built, and real communication can happen.
Because now, the audience feels like you are on the same level. You're seeing eye to eye.
But Hey-Seuss Cristo, what a dance that was to get to he good bit! Aren't you glad we don't need all that bullshit anymore?
With the advent of social media, you're already at cocktail hour. You can skip the boardroom formality and get straight to speaking candidly among friends. Cuss. Be non-PC. Talk shit and bust balls. But be REAL.
It's magical, but it's true and it works.
Talk to people as peers, equals, colleagues… FRIENDS, even… And surprise! They change themselves to fulfill that role.
And that's powerful. Much more powerful than it was when you used to have to put in a weekend of schmoozing just to work with a client, and maybe by project number two (if everything went well) you can start to have an actual human relationship.
Now, we connect directly and instantly. We might even become friends BEFORE we ever make a deal.
It's easy and cheap to do this online, and is way more efficient and effective than adhering strictly to the formal posturing and propriety of old, simply because it's tradition.
So, tell me. How are you dissolving the barriers of formality between yourself and your clients/customers? How are you using candor to CREATE the context of trust and friendship?
Here are SEVEN easy tricks to use to make fast friends of listeners and readers…
1. Share your gripes about your mutual interests. This is what friends do. Complain together and commiserate. Of course, this tees you up to suggest a solution as well.
2. Introduce them around. Create the context of friendship by inducting them into new circles. In written form, you simply connect them to other figures in your field they may not have heard of, or may not have met.
3. Offer advice as though in confidence. Advise against faux pas, embarrassing gaffes, and mistakes that would incur negative judgment. People feel connected to those who help them come across at their best.
4. Reference something they’ve done in the past. Acknowledge that you’ve heard of them in some way. This creates a feeling that they are deficient because they don’t yet know you, and most people will feel the urge to correct that.
5. Be self-deprecating in the way that friends mock each other. Point out your own flaws and be mean to yourself about them, without making a martyr of yourself by overdoing it. But a little self-ribbing will help people feel at ease with you.
6. Provide intelligence. Be a spy against the industry at large on their behalf. Spill secrets. Share things that you give the impression we’re not to be shared, but you’re offering it to them because they are in your circle.
7. Bully them into betterment. Expect better of them. Forgive their failures, but only the once. Encourage them to try, to reach, to push. Support them in their efforts to do so. Congratulate their successes and mourn their losses while offering a plan B.
Whether you do this en masse in a community, or one on one with clients or customers, this shirt list of tactics will create an intangible feeling of friendship and even kinship between people who would otherwise only be business acquaintances.
And if you can’t leverage that for your benefit, leave a comment to tell me why.