I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately. Romantic, business, friends, family and — yes, of course — customers. What allows for deep and meaningful connections? I’m not talking about connecting via Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook. They are indeed a proxy for our digital influence and network reach, but they have little to do with the actual definitions of connections and friends in the real world.
Let’s turn the conversation toward business-only for a moment. What allows us to retain and sustain relationships long term and reduce instances of the proverbial revolving door? Do we live (or work) in an environment conducive to maintaining and sustaining meaningful relationships? Do we even want this?
Or, are we okay living on the transactional — somewhat superficial — level, buying into modern-day paradigms that value short-term gain (promiscuity, inflated stock prices, cheap labor) over long-term benefit (intimate partnerships, profitability, social good).
Brilliant musician and writer Amanda Palmer, in a recent excerpt from Brain Pickings, sheds light on how we can better understand the culture in which we live. During speaking engagements and in conversations with colleagues, I have called this “pandemic” of topcoat relationships The Tinderization of Culture. Her words give life to this assertion:
“As I moved through my life as a statue [on the streets of Boston] and later as a musician, I started to understand:
There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen.
When you are looked at, your eyes can be closed. You suck energy, you steal the spotlight. When you are seen, your eyes must be open, and you are seeing and recognizing your witness. You accept energy and you generate energy. You create light.
One is exhibitionism, the other is connection.
Not everybody wants to be looked at.
Everybody wants to be seen.”
Her words cut deep: Everyone wants to be seen. We’ve all been in relationships (personal and professional) with people who think we’re pretty/handsome, witty, cool, or important, but if they fail to really understand who we are trying to be in the world, what makes us tick, and what we’re trying to accomplish, the relationship will eventually fall flat. They may be “looking at us” but they don’t really “see us.”
So when we think about how we treat each other, as humans, not as data, I think we will begin to have more success in terms of true connection and meaning if we attempt to “see others” on a deeper level than that which our job titles, hobbies, etc. imply.
If we really aim to “see” our customers (partners, friends, etc.) instead of looking at them as a number or hot lead, the returns will be greater than we could imagine and the success likely exponential.
Thanks, Rebekah. Meet another bright mind behind the scenes at AirPR: