Are you an introvert? Poetry can help you access your inner treasures

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I presume I’ve always been an introvert. And when I was younger I looked at that as a drawback, a negative side. For many years I’ve silently longed to be one of those cool kids that easily steal affection, that with just small gesture or smile so quickly make new friends and become leaders of ‘ the pack’.

I was kind of opposite of all that: only having few friends at the time, never liked to talk about myself – instead I’ve become an ideal ‘shoulder for crying’. As a highly individualistic, books were my favorite company and I never had a problem to spend time alone, with myself. Also, as an introvert I’m somehow on the constant quest for deeper meanings, understandings and knowing. As a motivation, that can be a great advantage in any research profession for example, but somewhere along the way in the recent years, I’ve noticed my introvert side has even grown. That is something I didn’t expect to happen in my late thirties, but it did. And here is where poetry helped me a lot: to express my feelings, thoughts and experiences which I’m not comfortable to share in classical mundane communication.

Poetry can be that articulate tool that gives the voice to those hidden parts of us: sensitive, beautiful, vulnerable, brave, but weak, dark and frightening in the same time. Connection to poetry is always personal and deep that goes to the farthest roots of our being and helps us recognize, accept and communicate who we are: who we truly are. To anyone who is struggling with finding direction in life, self doubt and self acceptance, poetry can help reveal those hidden treasures, strengths that moves us forward; helps us discover our place in the world. In your writing and reading poetry you can find intimacy you might be lacking in an extroverted and often shallow world we are living in.

Having poetry in my life have certainly helped me to better communicate my needs and feelings and generally to cope with pressures of the fast paced world. If you do recognize yourself to be an introvert, introducing more poetry into your life can bring that sensation of nourished soul, that we are taking care of us; that we can find home where ever we are.

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
and before the street begins,
and there the grass grows soft and white,
and there the sun burns crimson bright,
and there the moon-bird rests from his flight
to cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
and the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
we shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow
and watch where the chalk-white arrows go
to the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
and we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
for the children, they mark, and the children, they know,
the place where the sidewalk ends. 

Shel Silverstein


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3 creative ways to improve your customer’s experience

Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.

~ Blaise Pascal

The most important image that your business projects is customer service. It relates to your company’s culture, how you communicate to your customers and how you re able to satisfy customer’s needs. Customer’s experience reveals so much about the business, especially the underlying truth: how are you committed to your business and customers; how eager you are to improve your business relations; how customer support is agile in solving problems.

It’s normal to have “now and there” sporadic, unsatisfied customers and complaints, but if it turns into habit, a regular event that you have repeatedly to deal with, your business focus and direction is lacking something.

When you try to meet the customer’s needs, you can incorporate some fun and interesting things, that will refresh your company’s communication with customers, make them smile and mostly – talk about it! They will certainly share pleasant experience with others and not will you only see your customers coming back  –  most importantly you’ll gain new ones.

So today, I’ll share three tips for more creative and engaging communication with your customers:

1.Make it fun!

About year ago, two students, after finding out at their local Tesco that their favorite popcorn is no longer stocked, they turned to Tesco to find out the truth – but not with regular letter, but in the form of a poem:

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You would probably expect such a huge corporation not to have time to bother with such things, but with great surprise for both students in question, Tesco responded also with poem and awarded students with some card money:

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Tesco has dealt with this situation in fun and creative way, taking customer experience to a totally different level. And we can learn a lot from their example.

2.Make it persuasive!

One real estate company that has 12 hotels, uses poems in order to motivate guests to share their experience and write reviews. Simple poem cards with the most accessible verse of poetry simply invites the guest to follow the rhyme:

“Roses are red
Violets are blue
…Fill in the rest…

In the article is further explained the result:

Ïn June of 2013, our overall average review score was a 3.0 out of 5.0 with a total of 77 reviews. We had been using generic review solicitation cards for the past five years. Then, we implemented the poem cards in July of 2013. Our overall average review score jumped to 4.2 out of 5.0 with a total of 201 reviews, more than double the amount of input.

3.Show that you care!

You should never take your customers for granted. It’s a relationship that is build over time with trust and commitment. Thehaikuguys, came to a very interesting idea for you to show your gratitude, appreciation and overall kindness in your business.

As they state:

Ideally, one could incorporate individual, customized haiku-writing into relationship-building with customers. A way to tap into their passions, connect with them in a new format outside of email and project management software, and acknowledge that they are first and foremost humans, not customers. Maybe haiku gifts could deepen and refresh customer relationships in such a way that they wouldn’t even be customers anymore; they’d be friends.

And here are some examples:

“we want to give you

everything you could need,

then a little more”

 

“we apologize

for our software exploding-

we think it’s fixed now”

 

“if you cancel now,

will you always wonder what

good could have happened”?

So poetry can be stimulating and showing our good intentions and that we actually care – no better way then through poetry.

And what are your thoughts on this topic? Are there any other ways to incorporate poetry in your business communication? Please, share in the comments below!

Poetry and storytelling: part II

It has been said that next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling.

               ~Khalil Gibran

In the first part of this blog post series you got a glimpse of how important storytelling is for a business, especially for entrepreneurs. Today, I will discuss in more length, about specific techniques we can use in our storytelling and what poetry can teach us about that – especially narrative poems.

Narrative poem is one of the oldest form of literature and is a traditional way of capturing and delivering knowledge and experience – in the form of epic tales with exciting rhythm, rhyme, repetition which makes them easy to remember and share. And that’s what every entrepreneur wants: his story and message to be remembered and shared.

So what important lessons narrative poems can teach us and what should every entrepreneur incorporate into his storytelling?

1.Frame your story

What is it that you want to tell? You have to be very specific and craft your story around it. It also means choosing your character that will lead the audience through story, in many compellin141888-142934g ways – dramatic, funny, full of surprises. It has to deliver vivid pictures and excitement in order to keep the audience’s attention. Once you accomplish that, it’s easier to fine tune other details.

 

2.And…action!

Don’t bother with setting the scene and too much explanations. Lead the audience to immediate action; overflow them with emotions you want them to experience – people always remember how you made them feel.

3.Activate all five senses

An effective story, do take care of a “big picture”, but also pays attention to small details. Give your audience the opportunity to sweat, get freezing hands, smell the roses … All 5 senses have to be activated for your story to awaken interest, experience and to be memorable. In that way your message will be understood and worth sharing.

4.Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself

Repetition is crucial in learning. Think of your key phrases and words that you can use in smart way, so your story is easier to remember. Don’t overdo it, because otherwise you can make it boring and shallow. Martin Luther King in his famous speech used the phrase “I have a dream” eight times during that speech, which made it so powerful and energetic.

The following poem is an example of effective use of narrative to describe an ordinary job, but one that can touch our hearts in so many different ways:

Sending Flowers by Hannah Stephenson

The florist reads faces, reaches into the mouths of customers.
Turns curled tongues into rose petals,

teeth clinking against one another into baby’s breath.
She selects a cut bloom, a bit of leaf,

lays stem alongside of stem, as if building a wrist
from the inside. She binds them

when the message is right, and sighs at the pleasure
of her profession. Her trade:

to wrangle intensity, to gather blooms and say, here,
these do not grow together

but in this new arrangement is language. The florist
hands you a bouquet

yanked from your head, the things you could not say
with your ordinary voice.

So next time you want to tell your story, try to implement these tips – or even write your own narrative poem – you will certainly get the wanted attention.

Poetry in advertising: misused or too much used?

The most common trouble with advertising is that it tries too hard to impress people.

~James Randolph Adams 

When we think of business and poetry, our first association comes to advertising. And there is a good reason for that. Many companies aware of the power of language, use short, minimal poems that often rhyme with aim to attract customer’s attention and with memorable fable just try to get “stuck” to their minds. From one point of view, poetry is the ultimate, sophisticated artful use of language, a beautiful tool one can use to express emotions, thoughts, experience, where advertising is not even a “stand alone” art. As it is described in the paper Poetry and Advertising:

it is the handmaiden of commercial motives; its name carries connotations (well earned, one might add) of halfruths, deception, and outright fraud, of appeals to vanity, fear, snobbery, and false pride…

But, we shouldn’t forget that poetry and advertising, do have much in common: a tendency for putting what we want to say in rhyme, following specific rhythm and words so precise in their “attack” on our unconscious thinking. They intent to give meaning to everyday life events and subjects, using symbolism and metaphor to express ordinary world. The emotional response that poetry retrieves from customers often means an immediate engagement and we can see how multinational corporations are using poetry to promote their products. For instance:

A narrated ad for McDonald’s (“the Gothy types and scoffy types and like-their-coffee-frothy types were just passing by“) or very good example of the use of more traditional poem like in the Levi’s commercial:   “I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me; to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can: I will walk up and down here, and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid.”

“Midsummer night dream” is a Shakespeare’s classic and here it is stripped down from its original meaning and put into a whole different context. It offers new, refreshed interpretation where a love story is translated into our modern infatuation with fashion. Very interesting approach.

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In one of the Guardian articles  they interviewed two contemporary poets and asked for their opinion on the use of poetry in commercials. Roger McGough, a performance artist from Liverpool wasn’t that happy with use of poetry in advertising, since it’s usually “distasteful and not respectful enough”.

On the other hand Nick Toczek welcomes the exposure that advertising offers poetry:

Shakespeare would have thought commercialism was worth it. Populism is good. The more language matters to people the better.

At the end of the day, good poetry is a sincere appreciation of sadness, love, joy – and even death. And that appreciation comes both from poet and the reader. It’s hardly ever going to be found in the cheeseburger or a bowl of candies, because as poetry did get its role in advertising, the real purpose of poetry is to convey something much more deeper and bigger.

Diversity at workplace: how to use poetry for improving communication and intercultural differences

Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.
~Malcolm Forbes

For many years I had the opportunity to live in the Hague, the Netherlands and it is one of the most diverse cities, where cultures, ethnicity, religion and human rights mix together, forming a unique atmosphere and living diversityconditions. Diversity is a major topic and I’ve been always intrigued to which extent it governs our everyday life – especially if we work and live in diverse community.

There is a variety of differences that can exist among people within one  organization. In the Forbs recent article, it states:

In addition to creating a workplace inclusive of race, gender, and sexual orientation (to name a few), many organizations are seeking value in something even simpler, diversity of thought. In some industries that are known for being insular – think law or high-tech companies – seeking out talent with different thinking and problem solving backgrounds is critical.

It is very important issue since it influences how we perceive ourselves and others. And as with every other issue, this one can have advantages and drawbacks that can affect our work life.

Some of the positive things might include different points of view, greater adaptability to changing conditions and a larger scale of skills and experiences within the organization. But often there are communication problems that can distract smooth interactions among the coworkers – which is prerequisite for timely and effective execution of projects. Ways and manners of managing diversity at workplace has become a hot topic and a lot of tools have been developed in order to bridge cultural gaps that diversity brings.

In the paper “Use of Poetry to Facilitate Communication about Diversity: An Educational Model”, authors suggest that we can effectively use poetry as a tool to facilitate communication channels among diverse and culturally challenged groups. They propose a workshop (that they tested in the following example) where the main materials for discussion are different poems from ethnically diverse poets and poems that relate to women’s issues.

Proposed workshop would begin with selecting a burning diversity topic that participants would like to discuss. Workshop facilitator afterwards chooses a poem congruent with issues that arose and a volunteer would read a poem. Participants in the group later discuss and talk about the poem.

Afterwards, participants would write their own poems, while they were also encouraged to read their poems in front of the group with the follow-up conversation. The workshop would end with the creation of collaborative poem, in which each member of the group was invited to contribute with one or more words.

Proposed time of the workshop: 3-4 hours, depending on the number of participants.

Workshop resulted in increased innovation, independence, self-discovery, sharing opportunities and collaboration. To measure these results, the Group Environment Scale was used to assess workshop effects on group dynamics.

According to the workshop feedback many participants adopted increased understanding of how gender and cultural issues may affect others.

Authors final conclusion is:

The research findings seem to indicate that the model’s interweaving of cognitive and effective elements has potential for creating changes among the individual’s perception of other cultures….metaphor can be especially instrumental in achieving this integration.

What are your thoughts on diversity, equality and inclusion? Can poetry be of any help?

Also have in mind beautiful words by Maya Angelou:

Human Family

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.