Let’s forget the ‘ow!’, ‘oooh!’ ‘and ‘nooo!’ because it’s always quite obvious what is causing you to make these exclamations. They are usually a sign that whatever it was has disappointed in some way is causing you mental anguish or physical pain. More interesting to those of us who are fascinated by how we might get to the next level of excellence is that cut off point between ‘wow!’ and ‘whoa!’
‘Wow!’ is that point where you are delighted and surprised. You are left feeling good, as if you have been given a really nice hug. Whereas, ‘Whoa!’ is where the intention was to leave you delighted and surprised; instead you feel like this was just too much, a step too far, like when you’re a kid and your granny has a left lipstick kiss on your cheek. Or, the intention is not right, people are trying too hard, they are putting on an act, this is not their natural inclination but one that is forced. On the receiving end, it just feels creepy.
The problem is that we all perceive situations differently. I might think ‘wow!’ and my colleague who has experienced the same thinks ‘whoa! I’m happy. I’ll go back, perhaps even recommend these people to other friends. My colleague on the other hand feels decidedly uncomfortable and wouldn’t go back there unless accompanied by a large dog.
We need to understand this cusp because If you want to leave people thinking ‘wow!’ and achieve ‘whoa!’ then it could be a disaster.
All of these reactions are an emotional response to the experience brought about by:
- Novelty: Not seen it before
- Gives insight: Not thought of this before
- Reinforces: Your model of what brilliant should be like
- Surprises: Not what you expected
- Delivers: Gives more than you thought
The difference comes with:
- Engages: Makes a connection
‘Wow!’ means we’ve connected; we have rapport, whereas ‘Whoa!’ misses the mark. You can do all these brilliant things above and yet if you fail to make a connection all that hard work has been wasted or worse.