Seinfeld fans may remember the Close Talker episode, when Elaine’s boyfriend would enthusiastically speak nose-to-nose to with whomever he was talking to. This cringeworthy behavior resonated with viewers because no one likes a close talker.
I had a former co-worker who would advance toward me and lean her face closer to mine every time she spoke to me. It was like she was sharing an intimate secret with me every time she talked. I developed this awkward dance of backing away, only to have her step closer. I’d bump up against a wall, but she’d never take the hint. I’d have to get my back away from the wall by spinning away. And she’d still inch closer.
It got to the point that I dreaded conversations with her and half the time didn’t even know what she was saying because so much of my energy went into the dance.
So other than developing footwork like Floyd Mayweather, these interactions taught me the power of ethnomethodology.
That’s a fancy term for a sociology discipline that delves into the power of folkways. Not to be confused with taboos, folkways are the informal “laws” of human interaction.
Close talkers violate that personal space bubble we all learned about in kindergarten. The behavior is technically not too egregious (when with a significant other, that type of talk is often welcomed). Yet, we are conditioned to respect that invisible barrier around each person. When someone crosses that boundary without an earned sense of intimacy, the feeling is both aggravating and unsettling.
There are many other folkways we value:
-maintaining eye contact while speaking
-holding the door for someone
-not “budging” in line
-limiting your answer to “fine” when someone asks “how are you?”
Each year, a teacher friend of mine has fun with that last one in his classes. He has his students head out and ask acquaintances how they are doing. After getting the typical, “Fine, how are you?” response, they were instructed to share detailed responses -whether drawn-out stories about their week or problems at home- and journal the results.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of journal entries documented responses ranging from the unpleasant to downright hostile.
With apologies to rebellious teens, most of us prefer boundaries. They make us feel safe. Whether delineated performance responsibilities for a job, grading expectations from a professor as listed in the syllabus, or traffic ordinances, we develop a dependence on rules and regulations that factor into all areas of our lives.
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But in business, this approach is all wrong.
Feeling safe and doing things “by the book” is absolutely, as the saying goes, bass ackwards.
Conformity is good in airports, where strict protocols ensure safety for travellers. But in business, all conformity does is make you like everyone else.
And if you’re like everyone else, you’re no one.
Here’s what everyone else does:
-Creating a website
-Building an app
How many of these “tried and true” methods are you using?
How many are working?
See my point?
What if you can shake things up and make your business stand out from your competitors? What would it do for your financial goals if you could increase traffic systematically and KNOW that both the number and quality of your clientele will increase?
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