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With a Single Tweet, Elon Musk Taught a Major Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

In a few short sentences, Musk shows how to reach customers effectively: by touching their emotions.

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BY Justin Bariso - 03 Jan 2018

With a Single Tweet, Elon Musk Taught a Major Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Love him or hate him, you've got to give Tesla CEO Elon Musk credit for one thing: The man knows how to use social media.

Consider the tweet he sent out on December 26:

Wanted again to send a note of deep gratitude to Tesla owners WW for taking a chance on a new company that all experts said would fail.

So much blood, sweat & tears from the Tesla team went into creating cars that you'd truly love. I hope you do.

How can we improve further?

In a few short sentences, Musk provides a masterful lesson in emotional intelligence--the ability to make emotions work for you instead of against you.

Here's what his tweet accomplished:

1. He makes customers (and employees) feel good.

At a glance Musk's opening comment looks like a simple thank you. But notice how he thanks Tesla customers specifically for "taking a chance on a new company that all experts said would fail."

In effect, he's commending Tesla owners for supporting David vs. Goliath, for helping the company succeed against all odds. With this short statement, Musk reinforces the connection with his core customer: people who want more than a car, they want to support a movement.

In addition, he demonstrates appreciation for the people behind the company--the thousands of Tesla employees.

2. He invites complaints.

Rather than shying away from customer complaints, Musk identifies them as a gift--because they offer valuable feedback and the opportunity to improve.

"A well-thought-out critique of whatever you're doing is as valuable as gold," said Musk it in one interview. "You should take the approach that you're wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong."

3. He responds in real-time.

Within minutes, customers responded with requests ranging from an electric pickup truck, to better navigation software, to a setting request that Bluetooth not auto connect to the phone. (That last one came courtesy of Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz--guess he hates when his wife steals his calls when walking by the garage with her key.)

Musk responded positively to each of the aforementioned tweets. This single action is smart on many levels.

For one, it gives Musk a chance to connect personally with customers. (Musk is known to joke with customers through Twitter as well.) How many CEOs do you know who regularly engage with their customers online?

Secondly, think of this: Tesla was likely already working on some of these ideas...but the responses can help Musk decide which products and features to prioritize.

Finally, it speaks to the belief that great ideas can come from anywhere--especially customers.

I believe my friend and colleague Karthik Rajan summed it up best:

"Gratitude + seeking feedback for improvement + follow-through is a great combination."

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