Remembering Dear Abby: The Power of Listening and Caring

dear abby_2Pauline Phillips, AKA Dear Abby, left an indelible mark on the hearts of her readers. She not only shared warm, witty advice in an authentic and entertaining way, but took the time to really listen to those who sought advice.

While Pauline Phillips has not written the Dear Abby column for over 10 years, her passing reminds us of the great woman she was. A woman who’s greatness came from listening—and offering advice only when it was asked for.

As we consider all the advice Dear Abby has provided over the years, we can’t help but think of the many things this popular column teaches us about social media engagement in a world where advice and information abound.

Two things we take away from Dear Abby are so simple, yet so overlooked in social media for business:

    Active Listening

    Listening doesn’t just mean remaining silent long enough for someone to speak. It involves showing people that you understand what they’re saying and where they’re coming from. It involves feedback and affirmation. It involves authentic response.

    Show your customers that you care. Be genuine in your engagement. And create a platform where customers can come to you—and know they’ll be heard.

    To show you’re listening to your customers, respond to their comments, their concerns, their questions. Don’t be afraid to do so publicly, as an apt response will speak to the multitudes and do wonders for your brand if properly applied.

    Caring Responses

    When responding, avoid impersonal company lines. Instead, engage authentically with your online audience—project the personality of your brand so people can connect with your business on a deeper level.

    Part of what made Dear Abby so successful was that she provided a genuine response that demonstrated caring and warmth to all of the people who wrote in. She was honest in her responses and was somehow able to express concern without casting judgment, humor without making light. Such a delicate balance must also be achieved in online interactions.

    Be honest without casting judgment. Be witty without being demeaning. Be entertaining without being fake. Ultimately, demonstrate to your (potential) clients that you care—about them.

DEAR ABBY: If you’re listening, thanks for all the advice over the years. –HEARTFELT IN ALBUQUERQUE