I ventured out into 94 degree heat today to hit a store because I needed to look for some little baskets (I’m trying to organize my possessions). This store is the kind where you can leave having spent $100 on items that don’t cost more than $2, or you can leave having spent $100 on something that you know is ridiculously overpriced but “it’s just so darned cute.” As it happened, I found exactly what I was dreaming about, so I grabbed 6 $3 square, colorful baskets off the shelf and then I commenced with my excursion. Suddenly, an employee of the store, who was walking by, asked me if I wanted a basket to carry my, well, baskets. And then she helped me put the baskets into the store basket.
Now, I would have been okay carrying my baskets around. It was a bit of an awkward load but I wasn’t walking around like a sad puppy dog. And contrary to all signals that may point otherwise, I would have been quite capable of placing my baskets into the store basket. Despite these hopefully assumed truths, the store employee was helpful and even nice. For no real reason. It was clear I was going to buy things. She had nothing to gain from the encounter.
We are the Social Media Users. Resistance is Futile. You Will Be Assimilated.
Lately I’ve had these vivid images of humanity actually becoming the Borg, especially us business type folk. Isn’t the Open Graph kind of like the Borg Collective? You share all of your thoughts, you receive everyone else’s…you are wired 24/7 so that their thoughts are always your thoughts? I mean, it’s kind of creepy. So often, we concentrate on sharing online and we forget that being nice in real life actually can have longer legs and make a bigger impression because…it’s so darned rare!
This is not to say that being nice online is worth a grain of salt. Even that kind of humanity seems hard to come by sometimes. The online assistance we may get is something we can link to, something that’s easy to promote, and let’s face it…help is often helpful. Help in real life, however, is so much more tangible. It can literally take a load off your shoulders. It can help you feel connected. It can help you carry an awkward load of items. And while you might not be able to retweet it, you still can tell your friends, family, and your Social Network all about it.
Bring a little mushy to your work
Think about your clients or your customers. When was the last time you did something totally kind, totally unnecessary, and totally without expectation or motivation to increase business? If someone is pregnant, have you asked how they’re feeling? Have you picked up a tab, sent a reference for someone’s kid? I’m not saying that you should spend a week wining and dining. But as opportunities arise, make sure you are being a human, not just a business person and not just a Borg. A little humanity — a little kindness — can carry much more weight, much more differentiation, and much more loyalty than any other thing you might do.
Just look at how happy that one little gesture made me!