“I Would Love to Share My Story”
Do you ever see the above title in your LinkedIn or email inbox?
I do, and it baffles my mind every single time.
At this point, the lines between our real lives and our digital lives become so blurred, they’re hardly recognizable. You would think people would be used to this by now, but for some odd reason, there’s still a huge disconnect between what communication looks like online and in-person.
As someone who is extremely passionate about creating a story to share, both in real life and online, I get it. You feel compelled to share yours with anyone that will listen. Unfortunately, your passion and excitement can blind you.
Instead of treating each person as the individual they are, the Internet enables us to cast a broad net and treat others like a faceless mass of “users” or “potential customers.”
These people are humans. They have their own problems, worries, and stresses that have nothing to do with you.
Do you want to be part of the problem by adding to their stress, or do you want to be a part of the solution?
Something tells me you mean well and you want to help others.
If not, screw you. Stop reading now and keep pedaling your bullshit until it all catches up to you, and believe me, it will.
Now that they’re all gone, let’s get back to it. When we seek to share our story online, there is only one rule we need to keep in mind:
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Now, I’m not a religious man, but I think these words are as good as any to follow while doing pretty much anything in life.
Imagine if people treated the Internet like it was real life. Would you want someone randomly walking up to your desk, interrupting your current train of thought by saying:
“Hi! I would love to share my story with you!”
First of all, no human being I know actually talks like this. It’s rude, impersonal, and lacks any sort of awareness.
Instead, I would imagine the exchange looking a little something like this:
“Hi! My name is Joe. It looks like you’re probably in the middle of something, but I was wondering if I could run something by you.”
Right off the bat, this approach does one crucial thing:
It acknowledges the other person.
We forget that, behind that other computer on the other side of the Internet, there is a real human being who craves recognition.
It doesn’t have to be monumental; in the grand scheme of things, simply using their name makes a big difference.
Personally, I think we need to take it a step further by doing something most people don’t do:
We need to listen first.
This might sound simple, but when we talk with others (both online and in-person), we’re usually waiting for our turn to speak. This nasty habit leads to increased selfishness and missed opportunities to provide real value to the other person.
Here is a novel idea:
Next time you want to share your story with someone else who may be able to help you, ask them to share theirs first.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly people open up when given the chance to share their personal experience.
Once they do have an opportunity to share, they’ll lower their guard and will ultimately be so much more receptive to hearing your story.
This might sound like a lot more effort, but that’s the point. Anything that moves the needle forward isn’t going to be easy; it’s going to take time, energy, and attention. In other words, you need to be sincere.
If you truly care about helping out people, this shouldn’t be so hard. If not, you’re in for a rude awakening. People are smarter than you think; they have the ability to sniff out bullshit quicker than a TSA Rottweiler in Denver International Airport. You’re better off giving them the benefit of the doubt.
In a world full of “growth hacks” and marketing tips, we really do need to slow the fuck down and starting giving a damn. Listen first, ask sincere questions, and then share after.
And please, for the love of God, don’t ever start an email or DM with: