A couple weeks ago, I read a fascinating article by Joshua Green in Bloomberg Businessweek about those oddly familiar, PG profanity laden fundraising emails you may have received from the Obama campaign (er, the president himself). Some of the subject line classics included: "Would love to meet you", "Hey", or my personal favorite, "Hell yeah, I like Obamacare".
Apparently the campaign's marketing machine did all kinds of message testing to see what elicited the strongest donation response before letting these things rip. Turns out, most people like their politicians to talk to them like they wish all the people in their lives would -- casually, simply, and with a little emotion.
It got me thinking -- if the president can communicate this way, raise millions of dollars, and get reelected despite continued economic challenges, why can't most business leaders? As a consultant, I work with lots of different companies across industries and locations, so I'm exposed to all kinds of internal communication. I even get to write and script some myself. Nine times out of ten, by the time the various people that have to weigh-in and sign-off on this stuff do their thing, it's about as flavorless as school lunch. What's worse, most people writing and receiving them fully acknowledge the lifelessness of the corporate dribble they're putting out into the universe. Yet we send message after message without a significant tonal shift.
Here's another oddity along the same lines: when it comes to talking to customers some of the most subdued internal communicators are suddenly Mr. Friendly! Why is it alright to talk like a human, make a joke, even be a little risqué with the nameless, faceless public, but not with the people you work with every day!?
Listen, I'm not advocating for every email from the CEO to drop the f-bomb. But I do think it would great if more leaders and communicators started talking and writing to people around the office with a little more heart. The Obama campaign did the research for you. If you want to inspire action, you have to be authentic and real. Damn it, it's good for business, and it's good for your soul! See what I did there?
Daniel Dworkin's blog on Huffington Post. Join the discussion.