You know what it feels like to be the odd ball out.
When you’re there in the room, but it’s clear you don’t belong.
Someone might be an asshole enough to point it out—but even if they don’t, the tension in the air speaks for itself.
You’re not a part of the “in” crowd and you don’t understand any of the inside jokes. And when they tell jokes, you can’t really tell if you’re the butt of them, but you very well might be.
You’re physically inside, but you’re definitely an outcast.
The moments can be so uncomfortable, you’d take yourself into exile given the opportunity—just to avoid one more embarrassing moment.
None of us like to feel excluded.
Our evolutionary DNA tells us that we’re safer in groups. And in fact, we are.
In a group, there’s someone to stand up for us if we need it, there’s someone to let us know we dropped the $5 we need for laundry out of our wallet, and there’s someone to confide in when we’re feeling sad, frustrated, or angry about the harshness of the outside. Because once we’re on the inside, thank God we don’t have to take on that harshness alone.
Our Sensitivity to Rejection… Explained via Cyberball
The other day, I was reading an article on Psychology Today (because apparently that’s what I do) called The Neuroscience of Rejection.
In it, they talk about a rigged game called Cyberball.
It’s a game that’s rigged and that you know is rigged before you ever start playing it.
Basically, three online players (you’re one of them) throw a ball back and forth. After a while of passing, the other two players ignore you and just pass the ball between themselves.
And even though you know it’s rigged, holy fuck is it ever distressing.
“If this were a situation in everyday life,” explains Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D, “and two people suddenly decided to treat you like you’re invisible, you’d feel understandably miffed and confused. However, in this virtual game, you don’t know the other players and, in fact, the entire situation is completely rigged to ignore you. To make it worse, you very well might suspect the game is rigged. Yet, you feel unhappy anyhow.”
So even when complete strangers exclude us, we react with anger or sadness.
It’s a tiny manipulation that we know is happening to us, but it still gives us a minor meltdown.
Are our brains really that sensitive?
So imagine what it feels like when someone comes to your website because they liked something you produced, wanted to see if you’re worth being in their “circle,” and then saw you couldn’t be bothered to speak directly to them.
Rather than getting hot and bothered with the situation like they would in a game of Cyberball, they’ll just protect themselves from the frustration and close your window and not come back.
Which is not what you want to happen when you’re trying to be successful with your online business.
About Pages: The Real Tragedy of It All
The real tragedy though, is this is the default mode for most businesses online.
There’s a lot of “we” (office team), “I”, “me”, and “us” talk.
We show off how awesome and incredible we are without even considering the person reading on the other side of the screen.
We talk at them, in other words, no to them.
And talking at someone is like telling them an inside joke they don’t get. It makes them feel excluded, like you think you’re better than them, and like they’d really rather not have anything to do with you.
So, guys, let’s make an effort.
Because we can do better.
Let’s not make our target audiences feel alone, left out, and excluded. Let’s not make them feel like they’ve got to fight for everything they get and like there’s no help out there for them.
Because we are here to help them. And boy do we ever want to.
But first, we’ve got to invite them in.