“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” ~ Mark Twain
Yesterday we talked about how to deflate aggressors (aka ‘Internet Trolls’) in online conversations. Yes, it was Sunday and I sent you something productive. Deal with it.
It only seemed logical that we turn the tables and talk about how to hire your heroes, create an audience of raving fans, and otherwise become “the TSwift of ___” online.
It’s actually really fucking simple… those of you who have emailed me are going to read this and laugh as I’ve been doing it to nearly every one of you in my responses.
This is going to sound “fluffy” but I’m going to follow it with psychology ad examples:
With every interaction, look for an opportunity to make someone feel good.
Dopamine, aka ‘The Pleasure Drug’, is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in reward motivated behavior. You know how excited your dog gets when he poops, knowing that he’s about to get a treat? He’s trained… and that works on people too.
Positive reinforcement training is where (simplistically) you ignore the bad behavior and compliment the good behavior. When I’m managing (training) an audience, be it on Facebook or in an email series, my version of “bad behaviors” are primarily bland comments (cool, nice, awesome, etc.), uninformed responses (people who didn’t actually read or watch the content). These are given low energy responses.
If you’re wondering why arguing and trolling aren’t included as bad behaviors, it’s because negative comments are wonderful platforms for discussion. Fun fact, the people who oppose you are the ones that give you the most credibility.
Ignore the bad behavior, check.
What about when someone makes a good poop and needs the internet equivalent of a pat on the head, a tasty treat in their mouth, and a reaffirming “good boy”?
Well, much like when you’re training a dog, it’s less about what you’re saying and more about the tone with which you’re saying it… because dogs don’t speak English.
What’s true for dogs is also true with humans — even online.
Compliments are nothing less than an art, but it’s one that can be learned. First off, ditch generic words like awesome, nifty, and cool. While they’re favorable, they’re also weak and show how little effort you put into the statement. Be specific!
Here are some examples of some favorites (not all of my compliments are a hit):
- “I love how your shoes match your necklace. The splashes of color are bold!”
- “You’re focused, intentional, pragmatic, and extremely well communicated.”
- “Your debonaire bravado came up in conversation with a client…”
Don’t say “nice shirt” … take the time to tell them why. Don’t say “thank you” if they pay you a compliment … tell them how much it means to you. Put in the effort.
The more you do this the more dopamine you will release in people’s brains and the more people will want to be around you. Two years ago I set a goal to pay specific (and entirely genuine) compliments per day. I honestly lost count at how often that’s led to meaningful connections, paying clients, and hot dates (it happens).
Your Homework: Find two genuine moments of appreciation and express that feeling in the most emphatic, descriptive, and energized manner possible.
While it’s more than welcomed… responding to this email doesn’t count.
P.S. That compliment about the matching shoes and necklace… yea. That was in a bar on my birthday and delivered while not entirely sober. Turns out, the person I was talking to was the Head of Global Marketing for Ben & Jerry’s. That compliment led to a conversation, dinner, free ice cream, and a friendship two years running.