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Andy Shore

Stephon Williams & Obama: The Business of Compassionate Communication

Mar 23 2012, 06:41 PM by

Yesterday I saw an article about President Obama briefly communicating with a deaf college student via sign language. It took place while Obama was shaking hands with supporters at an event. On the surface, it’s a feel good story. That student, named Stephon, later wrote that it was a day he will remember for the rest of his life.

Stephon signed to Obama saying “I’m proud of you,” and the President responded by signing “Thank you.” Saying thank you is one of a few signs I know, and is an easy one for anyone to remember. The fact that Obama was able to understand and respond to Stephon is great, but the sentiment behind it is what I want to take the time to talk about now.



Benchmark Email is a company that understands the importance of communicating in an individual’s native language. Yes, to an extent I’m speaking to the fact that we offer our services in eight different languages, and the fact that each one is headed up by native speakers. It’s not just that. We also are sure to communicate with our English speaking users in a way that they can understand, without talking down to them or using too much jargon. Our guides and manuals, tweets and email campaigns are constructed to easily communicate with the reader.

I’m not just here to toot our own horn, or compare what we do to what Obama did (the only thing we’re president of is helping your business kick butt). Your company can adopt this idea in many ways. You may not have the people or resources to communicate with customers in various languages. That’s okay. It can be as simple as offering specials and promotions for holidays and events outside of your own culture. Just something that shows your subscribers or customers that you care about them and that it’s not all about you. Show a little compassion and understanding.

For Stephon, it prompted him to post a video of the interaction on YouTube and write about it. The story turned into some additional good press for Obama as elections near, and any President will take whatever positive stories come their way. For you, it could result in good word of mouth feedback for your company, new customers and happier current ones.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Current Events

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