Entitlement isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but an overinflated sense of personal entitlement certainly can be.
As our expectations grow around business communication to include personalization, hyper-targeted messaging and responsiveness to our most trivial concerns in social networks could we be growing into a bunch of self-entitled brats?
As much as I appreciate the shift toward treating people like humans in our communication, how human is it to disregard and dismiss anything that isn’t packaged the way we prefer? Today I’m talking primarily about email, but I think this issue extends into communication in social networks as well.
While this may be your prerogative, I prefer human communication to mean that we are free to evaluate information, individuals and even technology on a case by case basis. To me, this is what it means to be a part of social business communication, not simply applying a new dogma with a new set of rules that must be adhered to as rigidly as the old ones.
Personal Entitlement Impacts Scalability
One thing I’ve learned is that when you transcend expectations at the very start of any relationship, the second you take a short-cut because your resources are stretched, the parameters have changed or you’re just plain having a difficult day, people do not react well.
People never seem to think that since you went above and beyond before that they should be grateful. For some reason, memories of past special treatment only ever seems to raise future expectations.
The elevated level of individual expectations means more and more people will be disappointed by your ability to scale any outreach.
Does mass communication still have a place?
Look, I understand that the best practice is to make sure you know who you’re talking to before sending any kind of outreach or PR pitch, but is it really that hard to hit delete? Do people need to be outed, blogged about and publicly dissed because you received an unsolicited email?
Call me a crank, but I can’t help but think we have bigger issues to tackle in this space.
I’ve received mass email communications from personal friends and colleagues who chose to blind copy a whole slew of their contacts in order to communicate something personal, or invite me to participate in a special event. I was glad to be kept in the loop.
I have also received mass email communication inviting me to take a sneak peek at books and other projects to be published about social media from authors I respect. Again, I was glad to have the heads up whether or not the announcement felt personal.
We all use social technology (including email) to take shortcuts in our communication, can’t we allow others to take similar shortcuts at least some of the time?
Honesty over Research
I may be alone here, but I would prefer honesty over cyber stalking with respect to pitches I receive.
I can’t help but wonder whether a better, more human approach to communication might be to cop to a lack of personal reference rather than some sort of ad hoc background check?
I would much prefer something like, “hi, I know we haven’t met or interacted at all, but this post on your site led me to believe you might be interested in this information. Please disregard if this isn’t your thing, or if you have the time, let me know if you think of a way we might be able to work together in the future?”
Admitting to a lack of intimate knowledge seems more human than any amount of doing homework on the front end. Unless, of course, you include the word “contrived” in your definition of what it means to be human. Besides, if you’re unfamiliar with the person’s work you may make the rookie mistake of latching onto some personal detail that seems more important than it actually is.
Besides, I thought content was King
If the content of the message is something I want to know do I really care if anyone took the time to “get to know me” by Googling my name or referencing my favorite band in the communication?
Even when a pitch or some other request is uber-personalized, sometimes it creeps me out a bit when the person takes so much time to talk about me to me, especially when I’m still unclear about what they’re asking me to do for them. I don’t necessarily need to be flattered, but I do value clear, concise communication.
Maybe I’m alone here, but if the content of the message is something I’m interested in receiving, I don’t care if it’s delivered by a spam bot, carrier pigeon, the pony express, my best friend or worst enemy.
I appreciate well-targeted information as much as anyone else, but sometimes I can’t help but think all of us could use someone who might come along and tell us to take a number, especially if it will help us come back down to Earth.
Since so many people liked this post, I decided to write another in the same theme. The Ugly Side of Social Media Part 2: Crap. The next one gets a bit more operational, but you might like it, too.
Photo credit: HK’s creative distraction