The Anatomy of Conversation -- #EarnedMedia #SocialCommunication #BrandManagement
It seems that all of the media fragmentation and conversational noise we experience is a direct result of conscience overload. We’ve rediscovered mass communication, and the floodgates have opened. And while it’s all social in nature, the reality is that we’re making a simple return to the truth.
But here’s the thing.
Trust isn’t something we discover by way of relationships, or even something that we build within them. It’s something instilled within us before we create them.
Take relationships as a barometer. As individuals, we’re highly incomplete beings. We’re always searching for someone or something to complete us. As the American novelist, Tom Robbins, famously stated: “When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we’re still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more interesting.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Well, perhaps some of you (and hopefully some of us) have evolved a bit and have found beauty and tranquility (albeit through great compromise) in our partners, and subsequently, in our relationships.
But herein lies the simple truth of our challenge as marketers: we don’t own our own trust. As a result, consumers are predisposed not to listen or engage, and further, the dynamics surrounding this are akin to the dysfunctions of a parent/child relationship.
I came across what I thought was a simple but quite powerful framework for all of this during a session in pre-marital counseling. [side note: I have since married, divorced and am now engaged to someone wonderful...]
My ex-fiance and I had a curious debate over trust with respect to self-responsibility. I likened my mistrust in her to the perception that she nags me. She likened her mistrust in me to the perception (and likely fact) that I’m not good at prioritizing our needs over work needs. As our counselor pointed out, our conversational dynamics pointed directly to the more likely fact that we didn’t trust ourselves, and that the only real context we should be considering is this personal ownership of trust, since we clearly can’t rely on the other to satiate or complete those corresponding emotions for ourselves.
You can see the obvious correlations between adult, parent and child; it is necessary that we always talk to each other as adults, in mind states that are calm, focused, transparent, nurturing and authentic. Naturally, when we enter the parent and child states, we lose credibility and the trust within ourselves is challenged, resulting in disconnects that either kill off the conversation entirely, or emotions that send it into a tailspin of sorts.
Now, of course, we always have the option of recovery. At any moment in the discourse of conversation or a relationship, we can take a step back, re-evaluate, and most importantly, fine tune our range of listening. What we hear now versus what we heard before gives us greater knowledge of self that can be applied to a far greater understanding of the other.
A fun little side note: the illustration you see above constitutes an overview of a flat world. However, if you can imagine the open railroad track extending ad infinitum (or at least off into the distance), the two parallel sides of the track converge. The analogy here is that we can maintain our individual identities while forging along a path that is concordant, and ideally at certain times, enlightening.
I won’t belabor or even torture the point by providing a laundry list of examples (many of them recent) that showcase the inherent flaws in the brand-consumer relationship and why reputation management is as elusive as ever. Nor will I provide a short list of tools that enables us to manage our consumer relationships (if that is even possible). You can read a plethora of industry blogs for that information.
Technology and media are not the issue nor the answer here. But I will say that our problems definitely stem from our personal and corporate ownership of trust, as well as the fact that we often do not ascribe actionable steps to the things we offer up through language.
In other words, we need to actually be our word.
Whether or not this is a revelation to anyone is also not the point. The real point, it seems, is that we often overlook the reason for having relationships in the first place, which is to build upon the promise of better things to come.