“Authentic Marketing,” Part 2: On Actually Caring About People | Steve's Quest: The Animated Musical Web Series

“Authentic Marketing,” Part 2: On Actually Caring About People

It’s become common in business literature to say that entrepreneurs who care about others tend to be more successful.  Thus, say business authors, it will profit you to act like a caring person.  Say “thank you,” smile, look into people’s left eye, let them do most of the talking, and so on.

I think it’s true that people who are genuinely concerned for others’ wellbeing make better entrepreneurs.  But that doesn’t mean we can develop real concern for others simply by imitating caring people — by aping their body language and the words they use.

We can easily see this, I think, when we recall moments when someone flashed a fake smile at us.  The corners of their mouth turned up, but their eyes were hard, and fearful or angry.  All this did was create unease for us — it certainly didn’t make us want to do business with them.

I’ll bet you can also remember a time when you went into a social event with preconceived notions about how you “should” act — perhaps you thought you needed to look charming, aloof, successful, or something else.  Was that enjoyable or miserable?  I think the answer is clear — making all that effort to look a certain way is no fun at all.

Ask Yourself Why You Don’t Care

If caring for others isn’t about imitating kind people, how do we do it?  In my experience, the first step is to take a close look at what’s going on in moments when we don’t find ourselves caring about people — when our hearts are closed.

My sense is that, when we aren’t feeling concerned for others’ wellbeing, it’s because we’re occupied with protecting ourselves.  Consciously or not, we think there’s a threat to our survival.  Naturally, we’re focused on avoiding that threat, and others become just a means to that end.  We start ignoring people who don’t look like they can give us money or prestige, and manipulating those who do.

So, I think it’s useful to ask ourselves, whenever our hearts are closed, “what’s the threat I’m trying to deal with right now?  What danger am I protecting myself from?”  The answer you arrive at, if you sincerely ask this question, might be something like this:

“I need to look tough to make sure people don’t hurt me.”
“I must look successful, or no one will work with me.”
“I must be seen talking to the right people, or my social status will be destroyed.”
“I need to get clients at this event or my business is shot.”

Facing The Danger

It makes perfect sense that, when we’re thinking this way, caring about others is impossible.  But I think you’ll notice that the question I described helps put the perceived threat into perspective.  The closer you look at the supposed danger, the less serious it starts to seem.

Is it really true, for instance, that your business will collapse if you don’t get clients at this event?  And even if your business did collapse, what would that really mean for you?  Would you disintegrate and never be seen again?  Or is it more likely that you’d get up and try something else?  Notice how just probing the fear a bit with questions like these can have it start melting away.

My sense is that human beings are naturally compassionate toward one another.  Tapping into that compassion, I think, is more a matter of letting go of the ways we protect ourselves against getting hurt than memorizing the right “tips and tricks.”

(You can read Part One of this series here.)

21 thoughts on
“Authentic Marketing,” Part 2: On Actually Caring About People

  1. Evita

    Hi Chris

    Fantastic ideas. In a world where we have gone into computer automation on so many levels, the first thing that is nice in dealing with a company or entrepreneur is having personal contact, then add to that, having authentic personal contact.

    You are so right, we can spot a fake smile, or even fake kindness – it is so transparent. And I don’t know why people do it, perhaps there is fear on many levels as you point out, or perhaps they just genuinely don’t like what they do? I am sure there are many layers to the reasons.

    And beautiful way to end off – in the end it really is that simplep. Thank you for highlighting that!

  2. Sara

    Chris — I love how you take the business world and make it truly human:~) This is a great post for anyone, but especially those whose work requires a great deal of people contact. I think you are absolutely right about clients recognizing someone who is fake.

    What I think I liked the most about this post is how you shot the arrow perfectly at the bulls-eye when you said this, “My sense is that, when we aren’t feeling concerned for others’ wellbeing, it’s because we’re occupied with protecting ourselves.”

    I also liked how you carried this the next step and offered suggestions for looking at the fear behind the protective mask.

    You really are good at this:~)

  3. Chris - Post author

    Hi Evita — thanks for the appreciation — I think that’s true, being with someone who’s willing to let down their guard with us — just in their way of being, not even necessarily in the words they use — has become somewhat of a luxury these days. And yet, I think, at the deepest level, it’s what we all want. All this twittering and Facebooking and so on is all an effort to find that, but we often lose sight of this and get into computerized communication for its own sake.

  4. Chris - Post author

    Hi Sara — “making the business world human” — I like that way of putting it. I get the sense that we all want to be more in contact with our humanity at things like networking events, but our survival fears can get so loud that we end up behaving in an actually somewhat inhuman way in those settings.

  5. Michelle @ Find Your Balance

    That’s a good thought, Chris. I have found iit hard to be myself and be professional at the same time – I’ve had to stop and remember that my personality IS my brand, which IS me, so I don’t need to mimic whatever I think “professional” is, I just have to be myself and connect with people.

  6. Chris - Post author

    Hi Michelle — yes, I can definitely relate to what you’re saying about having preconceived ideas about what “being professional” is — and the paradox for me has been that, when I’m trying to “be professional,” I’m less capable of connecting because I’m in my head trying to follow a strategy. It sounds refreshing to be able to just connect with people, like you said.

  7. Patty - Why Not Start Now?

    Hi Chris – I like it that you say human beings are naturally compassionate towards each other. I agree. For me, it comes down to trust and curiosity. I choose to trust going into things, before I ever know who or what I will encounter. It’s a kind of trust that starts deep within me, and then when I add in curiosity, I almost always find something to care about in everyone.

  8. Evelyn Lim

    When I read this post, I am reminded of a conversation I have had with a friend. My friend was trying to recruit me to be in his network marketing business. In his response, he told me that he didn’t care if the people under him needed his product or not. He just cared whether he made a sale or not. Hearing his response made me know that I could never join him.

  9. Evelyn Lim

    Hello Chris, I tried to tweet your post. However, I kept getting the error message that says “this url points to the wrong story”. Can you please check?

  10. Chris - Post author

    Hi Evelyn — yes, I can definitely see myself having the same reaction to what your friend said. My sense is that people need to be deeply hurt, and not willing to acknowledge that they’re hurt, to have that kind of mentality. It takes some skilled work to peel away that facade of “I don’t care about people.” Thanks for the heads up on TweetMeme — I’ll test that out.

  11. Chris - Post author

    Hi Patty — yes, I also get the sense that trust is an essential ingredient of compassion toward others — if we don’t trust that the situation is safe and that we’re okay, whether it’s a networking event or a date or whatever, we’ll be so occupied with self-protection that caring becomes impossible.

  12. Jannie Funster

    Ahhh, as usual — more highly nutritious soul food here, Chris. What a super reminder that at our core we are compassionate beings meant foremost to love and be loved. When we get away from being preoccupied with self protection, how we can soar with maybe 999 out of 1000 people. And that 1000th we must just wish well and let them get on with their own journey.

    Hope you are as awesome as usual. But how could you NOT be — you’re Chris Edgar, and a great healer.

    Oh, and I am reminded I still have to listen to your latest songs, and I will, but for now must scoot to pick up the Child from school! :)

  13. Mark

    Love what you have written. Fear does often get in the way of our compassion for others. When we are fearful we are less conscious and therefore not able to convey the authentic love that we are to others.

  14. Hilary

    Hi Chris .. the comment ‘we don’t care’ .. rang true – we need to learn to care, not just for that moment .. our whole being needs to care more across the board – personal, others, environment .. especially not being selfish – think about others and the effect of what you’re doing on others or the neighbourhood. Giving too .. be it the small things – time, a smile .. all impact so much.

    As you say – not thinking of ourselves all the time .. thinking where the other is coming from .. being our true selves .. not putting up a facade .. thanks – enjoyed this – Hilary

  15. Chris - Post author

    Hi Jannie — glad to be of nourishment. Yes, it’s true, our compassion will not always be received with equally open arms, and those moments, I think, serve as a test of how compassionate we’re really ready to be. I hope you enjoy the songs and the car ride to school! :)

  16. Chris - Post author

    Hi Mark — I think that’s a great way to put it — that our love for others naturally unfolds when we can let down the barriers we put up out of self-preservation.

  17. Chris - Post author

    Hi Hilary — I liked what you said about caring with our whole being — often, I think, we try to compartmentalize our lives, and to be a caring person at home but an uncaring and ruthless person at work, for instance, and all that effort it takes to push away different parts of ourselves when we’re in different environments can be tiresome.

  18. Mike Jobs - Wise Step

    entrepreneurs who care about others tend to be more successful … i strongly agree on this sentence. I often read quite a lot of biographies on famous personalities and could observe that they often cared for others in one or the other way

    Nice Post !

  19. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work

    Your last paragraph contains much wisdom. “My sense is that human beings are naturally compassionate toward one another. Tapping into that compassion, I think, is more a matter of letting go of the ways we protect ourselves against getting hurt than memorizing the right “tips and tricks.” It reminds me of this quote. “If you do not pretend to be more than you are, you will dare to be all that you are.” ~ Susan Thesenga

  20. Chris - Post author

    Hi Mike — I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I like that way of putting it — as cynical as the world may have become, it’s hard to imagine someone rising to the top of their field without having actual concern for their customers or audience.

  21. Chris - Post author

    Hi Tom — thanks, that’s a great quote — it does seem to free up so much energy to accomplish what we want when we aren’t caught up in trying to present the right image.

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