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July 10, 2013

Stop Apologizing for the “Soft Stuff”

Written by Claire Lew

About a month ago, I had a friend look over the content of my company’s website. I had wanted her advice on the language I was using to describe my service.

She liked what I had written, with one critique:

“It all sounds a little...soft.

She was right. On my website were the words “happiness,” “caring,” and “emotions.” In fact, the entire premise of my business is based on helping people feel better. It’s what some people might call the “soft stuff.”

But it got me thinking: what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with the “soft stuff”?

I’ve always found it interesting how people shy away from talking about the “soft stuff” in business - the emotional, the abstract, the intangible. When I use the word “happiness” even in a casual conversation, I feel like I have to apologize for it so people’s eyes don’t glaze over.

I understand why that’s the case. As humans, we’re quick to disregard anything we can’t quite categorize or absolutely measure. When something is difficult to wrap our heads around, we reject it. Anything fuzzy, in the gray, or nuanced is hard to think about. So we don’t like to give those things weight.

But just because you can’t quantify something doesn’t make it less valid.

This “soft stuff” is real and powerful. How people feel about something directly informs how they act. After all, emotions have the greatest influence on human decision making. It’s the most critical factor in how we get things done, not just in business, but in life.

When we choose to not talk about emotions in business, we throw away the opportunity to leverage those forces in the first place. When we ignore the “soft stuff,” we let it influence our actions - and our company - without us even knowing.

We should embrace the “soft stuff.” Instead of dressing it up, side-stepping it, and prefacing it as being “touch feel-y,” we should own up to it.

Is having the word “happiness” on my company’s website a bit “soft”?

Absolutely, and I’m done apologizing for it.

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