Friday, May 6, 2011

WM #5 - DWTS Non-Verbal Communications

Weird Management #5
I never thought I'd be a fan of Dancing with the Stars (or as it is lovingly referred to by my sorority sisters on Tweets and Facebook: DWTS)- it seemed to corny and WAY too many people my parents age were watching and raving about it. Yet it's an entertainment phenomenon. This show draws you right in through its orchestrated drama and physicality by pairing HOT dancers with "regular" stars who frustratingly must be transformed from non-dancers to ball room dancers in the span of a few weeks. It's pretty amazing.

So how does this tie into WEIRD management you may be asking? Well I'm getting there.

During this last weeks show Chelsea Kane & Mark Ballas (the front runner in my humble opinion) pulled off an exceptional  paso doble routine but it was met by some harsh criticism by two of the judges. Mark is the professional dancer and the comments by the judges didn't sit well with him. While walking off the dance floor with Disney darling Chelsea in tow he threw in a lewd gesture (I call it the jerk-off gesture).

You can watch it here at Mark's website (which is actually a nice website).
Now I'm surprised the "gesture" was not caught by some of the DWTS pundits who likely would (or maybe did - I'm still looking) rip into Mark for his unprofessional behavior. His Mommy, a professional dancer in her own right who was in the audience, likely gave him a good tongue lashing for it. I think he took a great risk showing his "unprofessional" emotions in such a way knowing that every move he made is being recorded for television! And the chance he takes that the "older" voters rebelled and voting off poor, innocent Chelsea was a big risk (I know it doesn't work that way but you get my gist). I agree - tensions are high and the blood, sweat, and tears that go into grooming a non-dancer into a REAL dancer must be exhausting. Poor little guy! But this serves me in my blog post to illustrate the importance and effectiveness of non-verbal communication.

In our lives we spend so much time looking at the  printed word in our blogs, emails, texts, and multiple other technological mediums that provide us with a plethora of information, yet we rarely see one another to read traditional nonverbal communication like smirks, shrugs, and grimaces. Yet we fail to recognize the power and purpose of nonverbal communications in the ethosphere (yes this is a term) of technological society. Case in point, I was contacted by a newspaper subscription service today asking why I had cancelled my subscription. Quite bluntly I told them, "The report writing sucks and I don't want it any more." The caller hung-up - no response - no inquiry or concern - opportunity lost. The newspaper industry is in a crisis right now dealing with a significant reduction in subscribers and lost revenue - if one of their past subscribers says "it sucks" during a call wouldn't you as the publisher want to know! Okay, I was pretty blunt about my feelings about this product of which I was a customer but many people are reluctant or scared to voice their opinion because our Anglo-Saxon roots tell us it's not polite (well my Norwegian/Swedish mommy told me to never be rude!). This is unfortunate since I think many crappy businesses are still around because customers are afraid to be honest about services.

Yet, nonverbal communications is becoming a hot topic in Customer Service Management (CRM) and software is being developed to ensure that when a consumer is unhappy with something the organization is able to pick up on it through speech analytics. In other words, when a customer logs in to a business website customer interaction is monitored and measure on Web sites, chat threads, survey responses, blogs, product reviews (think of Amazon and Ebay), Twitter, Facebook, to name a few. So here we move from what we say or write to how we say it or write it - a new layer of business communications. But fascinating and an interesting niche market to explore by anyone who thinks they can write code to identify and decipher nonverbal verbal and written communications. Apparently IBM-Netezza - a data warehousing company has developed a widget to help identify and translate consumer angst reducing the number of computer bugs fixed by 67% (Okay - not sure how or why but having worked as a contractor with a company owned laptop - this would be a handy tool to avoid having to contact the help desk every time you need to remember how to map your computer to the nearest copier).

This could be a transformative opportunity for those online organizations who get most of their business from Internet orders. So next time you are on the phone getting jerked around by your bank or an online retailer perhaps even making the "jerk-off gesture" toward the automated or real live customer service agent, they may actually know it! Think about it!

So hows that for WEIRD MANAGEMENT!

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