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Simplicity Sells, Reality is Complex

All of us get caught in the trap of buying into simple.  One of the things that I talk about at some point in most of my training/team building/leadership development sessions is that people are complex.  We are made up of our many personality traits, values, experiences, physical attributes, and talents.  These form different perspectives, perceptions, and various narratives for each of us.  It is a wonder that we can communicate and achieve anything together at all.  Despite how obvious those statements are, we generally fall into the habit of assuming everyone is like us and have to constantly remember that our reference points are so different. 

On the other hand, we also have to remind ourselves how similar we are.  Sit down with someone for 5 minutes and you can probably come up with 15 things you have in common.  Being human provides us with many, many similarities.

You get the picture – WE ARE COMPLEX – and you cannot boil anything related to being human down to a simple formula.

For the last 10 years, I have been learning/teaching personality differences.  One of the major applications of this knowledge is that to effectively communicate with others, you should treat them the way that they are most comfortable.  For example, I’m an extravert, so when I am talking to an introvert, I try to lower my energy level to make them more comfortable. 

Well, recently I learned about Sinek’s concept of Why? – What is your company’s purpose?  The basic idea is that people buy emotionally based on their belief in your purpose, not based on the features of your product.  I became really excited about that because I knew immediately how I wanted to communicate Narrative’s purpose in this way. I thought that rather than talk about our services of Leadership Development, Team Building, Selection and Coaching, it would be more compelling to tell prospective clients:

 “At Narrative, we want to have the majority of your people talk about their jobs as dream jobs and we want their Tuesdays to be as compelling to them as their Fridays are.  If this were to happen, imagine how successful your company will be.”

Now, how is that for tapping into emotion?! Right?! 

Well, after the excitement wore off, I remembered my knowledge and experience and put it up against this new, somewhat simple idea.  His concept of appealing to the emotions only works for a segment of the population that relates to that.  I am attracted to that because I am wired that way.  But I don’t think it would work if I use that type of marketing messaging with my Accounting and Legal clients.  They relate better to more practical, logical, straight-forward marketing messages.  It may work with my clients in Marketing and Human Resources.  They may like more inspirational, creative messaging.

Simple sells, but it isn’t reality.  Reality is messier and harder.  Sure, we have to simplify concepts to teach them, but when it comes to applying them, we have to incorporate an idea into a lifetime of learning, test it, and make sure it works with the other concepts we know to be true.