By Geoffrey Stackhouse, Managing Director, Clarity Solutions
I’ve been separated for four years this month, and my divorce is done and dusted, so I thought it was time to dip my toes into the foetid swamp of online dating that is Tinder.
Turns out Tinder is just a super naive version of a media interview. Like an interview, Tinder is a chance to build your reputation through thought leadership and skillful communication. It’s a strategic conversation to achieve your desired aim.
So it’s no surprise that the feedback I’d give my fellow swipers reads like interview skills 101. The bar seems low, and they’re really rookie mistakes.
First thing that hit me was the Tsunami of negative language - curiously all of it from women (yes I looked at men’s profiles as well to scope out my competition). Guys, I'll get to you shortly but ladies, it’s a basic rule of effective communication to say what it is rather than what it isn’t:
No players, no time wasters, no nutters ... the list is endless. When you focus on the negatives you come across as angry, carping and not trustworthy. Plus no one is ever going to self-identify as a time waster or nutter so why bother - it’s not going to get you partnered, or laid.
You've got 500 characters so make every one count. Use your language to paint the pictures you want people to see. Inspire me by telling me what you are, what you love and what you believe.
The same rules apply in a media interview. What do you think of this quote from Qatar Airline’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker:
“We are not cheating anybody nor are we overcharging anybody; we are not taking advantage of anybody in this difficult situation."
Trust him? Believe him? Are you likely to swipe right and book with Qatar? No? Me neither - but what if he’d said:
“Qatar is determined to keep flying in these difficult times and do everything we can to get people back home”.
That’s a reputation building quote - for now and the future.
Of course, Tinder is first and foremost about images, not just words. And like a media interview, the images you share should reinforce your credibility and messaging.
Notice how in the media a Lawyer is usually filmed in front of a wall of books, a Doctor has a stethoscope slung over her shoulder or a sciencey background. It’s about positioning and authority.
So lads, what’s with the photos of you with a dead fish, sitting astride a coconut palm or staring into your laptop at an unflattering angle, unshaven and hungover after lonely Saturday night? Is it so hard to brush your hair and wear a shirt - ideally in a colour that makes your eyes pop?
Ladies, if your puppies really need an airing they won’t get it as your profile pic, especially if you caption them with “No ONS”. And is it just me, or is a pic of you clutching an armful of branded shopping bags, or guzzling cocktails with your gal pals, a major red flag?
But on Tinder, like a media pitch, the interesting part comes when you strike up a conversation. In a media interview, when I’m on the public record, I curate the topics and ideas pretty carefully. In Tinderland there are no filters.
Susan, I’m sorry you discovered your husband was cheating by getting diagnosed with advanced Syphilis. Kristin, sharing that you need a man because you’re sick of paying your own rent probably won’t have the desired results. Mike, 9.23” is an impressive claim, and disturbingly specific, but it isn’t what I’d lead with if I was looking for a life partner with Christian values which is your stated aim.
Tinder or a media interview, it’s basic human communication. Know what you want to achieve from the conversation, use words and pictures that cut through AND align with your strategic intent - then focus on your key messages without oversharing.
If you’d like to hone your interview skills, or your dating skills, you know where to find me. Meantime, happy swiping.
You might also like to read:
Why Lawyers communicate badly
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