Be Heart-Centered in Business…Out Loud

Vulnerable can be so bold.

A role model for vulnerability.

You know it’s time for a new blog post when a topic comes up in multiple conversations in the same week. So here’s this week’s theme.

I work with heart-centered business people, and many of them struggle to express that side of themselves out loud — especially in the business world. But we all need to go there.

We tell ourselves: “Can’t say that, that’s too mushy,” “That’s too personal,” or “They’ll think I’m stupid.”

If you need a practical reason to say it out loud (or in any business communications), here’s the kicker: our holding back on our hearts is getting in the way of our success.

Showing our caring human side is exactly what will draw the audience and results we want! I promise.

The Proof that Heart-Centered = Better Results

For the left-brained scientific types (and everyone who needs a little encouragement), here’s the evidence:

  1. Check your own buying decisions for evidence. You make spending choices based on how you feel about a business, right? And don’t you feel better about the businesses that seem to care? Don’t you prefer the ones with thoughtful live people on the other end of the customer service call?
  2. It’s proven that the most loyal customers are the ones who got the most honest helpful responses after a company made a mistake. People become more loyal when someone admits a mistake. Think about that. We get to be imperfect! Phew.
  3. If you read blogs, aren’t you most drawn to the ones where the writer seems light-hearted, funny, vulnerable, or just plain real? You wouldn’t read it otherwise.
  4. Oprah. The epitome of open-hearted =  big success. Need I say more?

Go Past Your Comfort Zone

Go a little past your comfort zone and then you’re probably in the right place. Get in above your elbows. (Yikes.) That’s where the gold is!!!

You are already heart-centered, so all you have to do now is let it come out in your words — on your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, brochures, phone conversations, and at that dreaded networking event. Why hold back anywhere?

I’m not asking you to be something you’re not. The key is to reveal more of the real you — mistakes, stuttering, and all. What makes it feel hard is thinking we have to be perfect. Go forth and be messy.

Heart-Centered Communication Sample

Here are three different styles for a LinkedIn status update. Which one would make you click to read more?

Old formal business style:
“New Article: Best Practices for Business Newsletters”

Heart-centered business style:
“I hope this saves you from my mistakes: 10 Things I’ll Never Do Again with My Newsletter”

Bolder heart-centered style:
“Ouch, I just learned a hard lesson on what not to say in a business newsletter. I hope my readers know how much I love them even when I goof up.”

OK, what’s your bold LinkedIn or Twitter post going to be? Tell me below and I promise I’ll become a fan.

My bold action for the moment is to hit “publish” before I make sure there are no mistakes in this post. OK, here goes.

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  • Wow, Val, you’ve really hit it. I love how clearly you have expressed this and I am inspired. Is there really any other way now?

    • Thanks Lisa! That means a lot coming from an awesome heart-centered business person like you. I think your website is a good example of this.

      In answer to your lovely rhetorical question, you’re right! Once you cross the comfort zone line, you find it’s actually more comfortable there. More real!

  • Carlyn Saltman

    Val and Lisa, you’re both so right. I spent awhile today bringing the text on my LinkedIn profile more in line with my heart-centered approach. It feels great! Who knows? I may even decide to mention this in a status update coming soon…

    For now, the example I have for you is the new first sentence of my profile’s summary… “I have an artful eye and caring heart full of passion for capturing and learning from everyday teachable moments.”

    The whole profile isn’t transformed yet, but it reflects who I am a lot better than the initial version. Thanks for inspiring me to work my way out of that old third person straitjacket — out loud!

    • Hooray for getting out of the third person straitjacket! Thanks for sharing your inspiration with us Carlyn!

  • Val, great points! Authenticity is a true business advantage over toeing the corporate line these days.

    I wonder, though, if there is a tension between heart-centered writing and what we know about usable writing for the web? Are there contexts in which one is more appropriate than the other or would you advocate this style everywhere?

    • Thanks for the comments Andrew. Great question. Are you concerned that heart-centered might get too wordy? Possible. I try to strike the balance by keeping my reader foremost in mind.

      I think heart-centered writing actually makes it easier to read.

      When I say heart-centered, I’m not suggesting people go on and on with whatever pops into their minds. No sir. (Although sometimes I’m guilty of that.) Based on your post about introverts’ advantages in social media, I know you agree. Instead, I’m suggesting they speak from the heart and with their human readers foremost in mind.

      Heart-centered = be real AND be relevant.

      Thanks for encouraging that clarification.

  • Val, I love the concept of writing from the heart. I’ve come to use it to discern whether companies “get it” or not. I’m just wondering if it is best balanced with other considerations?

    Specifically, when talking about micro-content such as headlines and navigation link text, the common wisdom is that these should be as short as possible (and no shorter!) with the action words loaded to the front to allow easy scanning.

    You posted the following example headline:

    “I hope this saves you from my mistakes: 10 Things I’ll Never Do Again with My Newsletter”

    Very human and quite clear…as long as you get all the way through it. I think usability folks might suggest the following revision:

    “10 Things I’ll Never Do Again with My Newsletter (I hope this saves you from my mistakes)”

    What do you think?

    • Andrew, what a great discussion. Thank you for raising it. I’d be curious to see how people would actually respond to the two options in real life. I think watching what happens in real life is the only way to tell.

      I suspect that the more heartfelt style would create more of an emotional hook and thus keep them reading, so I think it could work at the front end.

      People make decisions based on emotions, but they justify them with facts afterwards, so they think and say they make decisions based on facts. This is why testing or even neuromarketing is so important.

  • Great reminder, Val, and well-timed. It’s good to see another coach (besides me!) out there reminding folks they CAN be themselves AND be successful!

    So many *marketing experts* tell us to *go for the pain*, but that doesn’t always feel authentic or true to who we are. Personally, I believe those old marketing approaches are dead/dying, which is why so many stopped seeing results from their fear-inducing approaches.

    Here’s to a heart-felt, heart-coherent approach to marketing!

    Many blessings,
    Nancy

    • Nancy, Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I agree the old way is dying out even though some people keep trying.

      I say no to going for the pain. Stretching a muscle or going outside our usual comfort zone is important; but going to the point of fakeness or yuk is not going to work.

      Thank you!

  • Val, just to clarify: I believe their *go for the pain* concept means => evoke the fear in the client so they take action. Go for what will shock them into panic so they’ll hire you immediately. And, for the past 20-30 years, this approach really did work.

    However, in the past few years, something has shifted. Now, most people are panicked-out/had enough ~AND, many have lived the experience of paying someone they believed would help them, only to find out THEY knew more than the person they were hiring!

    So, this is why small business owners need to get out of the fear and hype, and connect with their authentic voice ~then, they will be heard by those who are seeking what they offer.

    Many blessings,
    Nancy

    • Nancy, thanks for those important elaborations. Interesting idea that we are “panicked out.” I think you’re right! But it’s as if we are still in transition mode and trying to find our new approach.

      I think we’re in a huge cultural paradigm shift, not just for marketing but in the way things get done on a global level.

      I love the way you said small business owners need to “connect with their authentic voice.” I gave some tips on how to do exactly that in this latest post:
      If You Hate Promoting Your Services, Stop

      🙂
      Val

  • Great post! If we don’t use our “authentic” voice, who are we really? Be who you are,in biz and in LIFE!

    • Martha,
      Thank you for adding your marketing expertise. I can tell from your blog that you are applying this authenticity value in your business. I enjoyed your “Inspired Marketing” post.
      Best,
      Val

  • Terry

    On target for me,,, the ‘professional’ persona dissolving.