a public service announcement in advance of Valentines’ Day
Sarah sent me this article a few weeks ago, from the LinkedIn Today Design portal: The Three Most Romantic Gestures Any Man Can Perform. I’ll save you the trouble and tell you all three: write a love poem, whisk her away for a surprise getaway, and give her your coat. The article isn’t anything out of the ordinary. But Sarah didn’t send it to me because of the content. We both agree that these are romantic things to do (maybe not the most romantic, but romantic nonetheless). What’s really funny is the comments section.
Shocked that flowers didn’t make this list.
The guys are all, “I would never date a girl that was too dumb to bring her own coat if it was cold.” Note that the guys after it are like, “Yeah!” and “Amen brother!” And then, note the girl’s response.
“There are so many situations where this can be applicable. For example, womens’ formal clothing is by its nature much colder than mens’….”
In fact, scroll through the comments. Not every single one, but most – a majority – of the women express some level of agreement. Maybe not perfect agreement, but some agreement. And yet, some guys are still complaining about how dumb it is and how they would never blah blah blah.
Ramit Sethi has dubbed 2012 the year of mastering the game being played around you, and I can’t think of a better example [bonus side note: “OMG the first sentence of this post reminds me of Shan!” – anonymous] . The game is this: guys will sit around and complain about how dumb girls are for not bringing coats, and yet they’ll miss the underlying idea that a girl just wants to feel cared about.
Boom. They’ll call guys who write love poems and plan impromptu picnics “whipped” and “cheesy”, and they’ll sit at home playing Halo with their buddies on Saturday night wondering why they can’t get dates like those other “losers.”
Halo on a Saturday night. Intentionally blurred to protect the innocent.
There’s a classic line in The Seven Habits about effective presentation: “Who do they send back to school when the salesman doesn’t sell – the buyer?”
Being effective means empathizing with the person you’re trying to convince. If you’re trying to romance a girl, put aside your own notions of what is romantic or not, and test out ideas that you normally wouldn’t. In the world of design, that means getting outside your own head of what’s useful to the customer and testing out multiple ideas – even if you think they’re stupid – to find the ones that resonate.
Sure, maybe giving a girl your coat isn’t your thing. Maybe whisking her away for a weekend – or an afternoon – seems over the top. And maybe you think a love poem is sappy and lame. But remember, gentlemen – you aren’t the target audience. We all find different things romantic (for the record, I’m a quality time kind of girl).
Know your audience. Question your assumptions. And Godspeed this Valentines’ season.