Where is the per­sonal touch?

A mass pro­duc­tion of “per­son­alised” in­for­ma­tion is just that - a mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Cus­tomers and prospects, friends and fam­ily see right through those ap­proaches, es­pe­cially when we aren’t thought­ful about our per­son­al­i­sa­tion. Some­times, we just plain b

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Guide - - INSIGHT -

Gauri Ch­habra

One of my friends who works in the mar­ket­ing de­part­ment of a lead­ing real es­tate com­pany came to see me and had pulled a long face. He seemed very dis­tant and did not par­tic­i­pate in any­thing we talked about. I felt that he was in­ter­act­ing at a very shal­low level. On be­ing probed about the rea­son of his dis­tant and aloof be­hav­iour, he said: "The fi­nan­cial year is about to end and I am still very far from my tar­get. I do not know what to do. Peo­ple do not seem to be in­ter­ested in buy­ing any­thing." “Are you adopt­ing a per­sonal ap­proach,” I asked him. This slightly irked him and he replied, “Of course, I do. I in­sert re­cip­i­ents' names into email cam­paigns that are tai­lored to what I as­sume are their re­quire­ments, thanks to a tai­lored sen­tence or two.”

The re­sponse says it all

Some­how that doesn't seem like a truly per­sonal ap­proach. A mass pro­duc­tion of "per­son­alised" in­for­ma­tion is just that - a mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Cus­tomers and prospects, friends and fam­ily see right through those ap­proaches, es­pe­cially when we aren't thought­ful about our per­son­al­i­sa­tion. Some­times, we just plain blow it.

I will give you my per­sonal ex­am­ple. My name gives me lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pe­ri­ence pretty poor at­tempts at per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The emails claim­ing to be an old friend of Mr Ch­habra al­ways give me a giggle. Then there are the of­fers of all those com­pa­nies that seem to just know what I want. That's a prob­lem born of mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion or just pick­ing my name from some data­base. There is no per­sonal touch. Then there are the com­mu­ni­ca­tions that don't mess up my name, but fail at the per­sonal equa­tion. One pro­fes­sional has sent me the same hol­i­day email, with the same pic­ture for four years run­ning. Each year their mes­sage is the same.

"I wanted to share my best wishes with you for the New Year, and thank you for your sup­port of my busi­ness this year."

I used to delete them and by the sec­ond year, I stopped do­ing busi­ness with that pro­fes­sional. Some­how, I

just didn't feel spe­cial.

Where is the per­sonal touch?

The per­sonal touch seems to have lost in so­cial net­work­ing and the tons of emails that we re­ceive in our in­boxes day in and day out. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion has be­come clut­ter, news has be­come noise. Let me ask you all a ques­tion, Are all those friend re­quests that you keep con­firm­ing ev­ery minute really your friends? When was the last time you in­ter­acted with them or, more specif­i­cally when did you go over their place for a cozy cup of tea and a close chat?

I still re­mem­ber when I was a kid, we had just one TV set kept in the liv­ing room. At din­ner, the en­tire fam­ily used to get to­gether, dis­cuss the day’s events and fight for the TV re­mote to watch a chan­nel of their choice.

The fight­ing, the com­plain­ing, the shar­ing, the snatch­ing was per­sonal touch. Slowly ev­ery­one had sep­a­rate rooms and sep­a­rate TVs and we started con­nect­ing with the out­side world and made it a vir­tual con­nect. When we dis­con­nected with our own world, we did not know.

Re­viv­ing the per­sonal touch

In this wired world, where we are all con­nected, yet para­dox­i­cally los­ing out on our emo­tional touch, here are some ways to bring about a Re­nais­sance of the per­sonal touch.

Just be per­sonal

If you're try­ing to con­nect on a more per­sonal level with your au­di­ence, then really be per­sonal. Dur­ing my re­cent visit to the US, I no­ticed there are still some peo­ple who write Christ­mas cards with their own hands, write per­sonal thank you notes to those who have touched their lives. I am talk­ing about a na­tion that is the most tech savvy in the en­tire world. This, my dear friends, goes a long way in bind­ing you with some­one. I did this for decades, tak­ing time to per­son­ally thank each and ev­ery client and part­ner who helped me through the year. I fell out of the habit a few years back when I was sick for a while. But now I'm thank­ing folks per­son­ally again - with emails and kind ges­tures for those who really touch my world.

For a large busi­ness, it may seem daunt­ing, but not ac­tu­ally. If ev­ery­one steps up to com­mu­ni­cate with their own fo­cused au­di­ence in ways that really mat­ter to that au­di­ence, it's an easy and pow­er­ful ap­proach to truly con­nect­ing with each au­di­ence mem­ber.

Do not fake

Stop try­ing to act like you're per­son­ally com­mu­ni­cat­ing in a mass way. Take the time and ef­fort to truly be per­sonal with your au­di­ences. Yes, it will con­sume more re­sources and time, but the re­sults will be more than cover those ex­tra costs. You'll be dis­tinct sim­ply be­cause of that per­sonal touch. Al­ways re­mem­ber, busi­ness is done on a per­sonal level.While you're at it, do the same in your re­la­tion­ships.

Don't be the guy who acts like he's your best friend for show in front of the boss, but who really doesn't know a thing about you.

You're ei­ther truly tak­ing the time to com­mu­ni­cate with some­one in a per­sonal and rel­e­vant way or, you're not. It is ob­vi­ous to your au­di­ence which you're do­ing and the reper­cus­sions will

fol­low.

Look in the eye

Eye con­tact is the most pow­er­ful medium of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and strik­ing in­stant bonds. Strangely, it has dis­ap­peared in this con­nected world. Peo­ple do not meet to­gether any­more, and if they do not meet, they do not grow. So in­stead of al­ways send­ing meet­ing in­vites or emails that en­cour­age vir­tual meet­ings show to your friends, clients, bosses that you are made of flesh and blood. Just meet with the per­son, look at him in the eye. That’s when you strike a bond and the per­son can­not say "no" to you.

You can have at your dis­posal all the means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the world, but noth­ing, ab­so­lutely noth­ing, can re­place look­ing some­one in the eye and then com­mu­ni­cat­ing.

There­fore, de­tach a lit­tle from the wired world, at­tach a lit­tle to the hu­mankind that you are made for. Dis­con­nect to con­nect… (The writer is a Pun­jab-based ed­u­ca­tion coun­sel­lor with 12 years of ex­pe­ri­ence. She can be con­tacted at gau­ri_­nag­pal@ya­hoo.com )

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