In A World Of Automated Business, Be More Human
The world of business has been utterly transformed by the technology-era. Everywhere we look there are new ways of doing things, faster way of achieving results, better ways of collaborating and working on the go and avoiding the dreaded human error. And yet the same old-economy platitudes still dance around industries like nothing has changed. You know the ones: “being successful in business is all about maintaining good relationships,” and, better yet, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.
It’s the sort of advice you get from those long-time “professionals” that predate the millennial generation - the kind that still have a personal email address more embarrassing than a dancing dad and write out emails in comic sans because that’s a bit quirky. They’re the people that ushered in this way of thinking that implies it’s better to have processes than people, which is because there has been an undeniable shift in the tech game. It’s all software engineers and process consultants and stuff.
People don’t do boozy lunches with potential clients anymore, nor do they see the point in attending a marketing conference. It’s just not the modern way of thinking. It’s a thought-process that sort of made a bit of sense at the beginning of this boom - back in the 90s - and has somehow become the new normal. Yeah. Automation has become the new normal.
Thankfully, like fashion, it all comes back around again, and that’s what is happening now. Two-decades after the shift toward robots and bots, we’re seeing people becoming peopleish again. In a day and age of internet dominance, ecommerce stores and customer service bots, we’re realising how important it is to make your business feel human again.
Because those businesses that celebrate what is to be and feel human are gaining a competitive edge. The big question is: how do you conduct your business like a human in an age of machines? Well, to help you out, we’ve pulled together a few little tips and reminders that will make you stand out from the bots in the best way possible:
1. The Power Of Being Introduced
None of us trusts our email inbox anymore and that’s because we know when that little “you’ve got mail” ding goes off, there’s a 90% chance it’s going to be spam of some kind (and the other 10% is going to be a cold email). We’ve all become wise to this sort of stuff. With that in mind, the best way to get through this new-age detection system is to come in warm, and that means getting introduced by a mutual - and trusted - connection. That won’t give you a leg up on the trust front, but it will mean you get given the time of day rather than just see your approach get trashed. It’s the next best thing, basically. The psychology behind this is pretty simple: it’s way better for a mutual friend to start the conversation than you - the stranger - because one is perceived to be innocent and the other guilty. That’s the barrier you’re breaking down.
2. Talk How You Normally Talk
If there is one thing people hate more than anything else it’s the business jargon we all use. It’s the worst. It takes who we are and swaps it out for some corporate BS that turns everyone off. So don’t do it. Instead, talk the way you normally talk. Be you. Be authentic, us your own turns of phrase and converse in a way that is totally natural. Let’s start with your website. Actually, sod that. Let’s start with this website, Copper Milk Creative, who nails the personal tone of voice. But yet, given they are creative copywriters by profession, hire them to give your brand a lovely dollop of friendliness. But don’t stop there. Overhaul the way you write emails to. Write with emotion. If you’re excited, then use exclamation marks. If you’re happy, use an emoji. Or just break syntax in any way you please. In a world of mindless and boring default writing, nothing is more attractive than a charming, harmless eccentricity. Trust us on that.
3. Highlight Your Human Processes
If you love the fact you still use human process and humans to do things, let people know about this. Sell that to them. Sure, there are some things that are better done by machines, like bowling alley pinsetter machines, lift operators and film projecting, but for most other things your human operation is a hugely positive selling point. Let’s say you have a certified document translation service or a copywriting business or a travel agency or you run tours or anything of that ilk - your best selling point is the fact you are humans. You are people-people. You aren’t doing things through algorithms or scientific research, you’re doing things through emotion and feelings and experience and wonder and all that stuff machines cannot mimic. That’s what will connect with customers and clients more than anything else.
4. Don’t Talk. Listen Instead.
For some reason or another, we all think running a successful business means talking to clients in a loud, drum-banging fashion where we have to be constantly pitching how awesome we are. How we can do this, that and t’other. But you’ll find you are infinitely more successful and effective if you stop all that stuff for a moment, take a deep breath and opt to listen instead of speak. It’s about enjoying a back and forth dialogue instead of a one-way monologue. It’s about asking questions and being genuinely interested in the answers. It’s about giving the person in front of you every chance to contribute. It’s about conversations not just talking. It’s about doing what Dale Carnegie calls being a good conversationalist. It’s about coming off as confident, thoughtful, considerate and cool, and picking your words carefully so that they carry more weight than a cartoon anvil.
5. Own Your Humanness
This couldn’t be more important in today’s currency where passing the buck and refusing accountability can wreck - and we mean wreck - businesses. Instead, do all you can to keep the promises you make and, if you do the human thing of making an error or a mistake, own it. The reason it’s become easier to pass the buck is a direct by-product of the modern way of doing things, from outsourcing freelancers to automating processes. When things go a little south, we all want to point fingers elsewhere and today makes that easier. But if you want to maintain that flawless credibility and reputation you’ve been saying you care about so much, you need to have the courage to shoulder your mistakes and take the blame for any hiccups. It will be tough to do at first, but it will go a long way in business. Instead of making excuses, apologise, admit you haven’t been good enough and offer a discount in order to keep that relationship going.
6. Empathy Is What Makes People Human
This is your chance to garner a reputation as someone who understands what others might be going through, not just as a means of becoming more forgiving, but to become a better problem-solver too. That’s imperative in business. It’s about developing the sort of positive - and professional - reputation as a "giver" and not just a "taker". You want to be empathetic enough to be someone who can create possibilities for others rather than just being that person who takes, takes, takes. That’s the sort of reputation you want to have.
The world of business is finally remembering how important it is to be human, so get on it right now.