Usually, when we meet with people that we know and like there is no stress or discomfort. These emotions can appear when the relation moves towards virtual space and has a formal selling or marketing motive. How do you cope with this situation?
Most of us has no issues with starting and maintaining the contact on personal ground. It is not the same on the internet where alive and feeling person is replaced with a script generating stimuli. This ‘dehumanized’ pattern is then reflected in the behaviour in such environment. We do not think about people that have created given site and we solely concentrate on the technology.
The reason of such change can be explained based on 4 levels of comfort corresponding to the situation.
Level one: during face to face contact we can usually perceive the second person with all our senses. We can see them, pay attention to their non-verbal reactions. At the same time we are the source of more or less conscious signals that encapsulate more complicated emotions. Imagine that suddenly our interlocutor was stone-faced and we aren’t able to know what emotions we evoke. The conversation becomes stressful to say the least.
Level two is reached when we talk on the phone with someone we know. There are no visual or tactile factors present but still the voice is a very strong carrier of the emotions. Our impressions up to a point are based on some predictability that is no longer there when we talk to a stranger. The conversation becomes more stressful but the possibility of reading the emotions based on voice is still an advantage.
Third level of comfort concerns the written word. Here we rely solely on past experiences and hope that the choice of words or the way the sentences are formulated will help us to decode the author’s intentions.
Fourth level is present when a document or written message is directed at completely strange person. That includes formal or official contacts aimed at achieving specific personal goal or completing a task.
Last fifth level of comfort, or more likely discomfort, is a communication via internet. In this environment our message can reach massive number of recipients and we are not able to foresee their reaction. Along with discomfort comes language washed of any emotions or on the contrary filled with extreme emotions. You can observe that on forums where users facing no real punishment have no limits. Internet is at the far end opposed to direct contact when it comes to comfort.
Imagination can help when attempting to communicate with the users.
When we direct a message to potential clients, e.g by publishing an offer online or an article, let’s try to visualize our target’s representative.
In this way we use a small mental trick that in marketing is called a creation of a persona. It serves to define the target group better. In internet communication persona can help in reducing the stress. Let us remember then that independently from communication medium, our client is not a nameless avatar but a real human that has emotions and expectations.