"Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it" - Rumi
“Woo” is a magical word to my ears. It’s escaped my lips in wonderment several times when I’ve stood in a color and textured enchanted garden. “Woo” is like a symphony when I hear someone whisper it when they step foot in my garden. Merriam-Webster dictionary describes “woo” as “To seek to gain or bring about”. Every diehard gardener has an inkling to leave his or her mark on the landscape and bring on the woo.
To me, setting the mood for woo in a garden is like painting a picture and adding elements that speak to a variety of senses. Some people are enticed by smells. Others love to see color, texture, or modern garden art. Music can be an attractant whether it’s from subtle speakers, chimes moving in the wind, or the gentle sound of water trickling. When you garden, you really need to appeal to all of the senses. People are touched in different ways and appealing to what is important to them is what connects them to their surroundings. When you have the gift of bringing something to others and make them feel special, you truly understand what “woo” is.
Anytime that you do something that influences or positively impacts people you build a connection. Feeling connected and valued is a shared human urge. As you muddle about your yard, think of what you can do to bring your space to life for others. Bring about a shared connection and really work to create something special. Get busy and begin the process of “wooing”!
Bring on the woo:
· Smells attract people and fluttering creatures alike. Plant night scented flowers and crushable leaves (mint, citronella, sassafras) to enjoy at night when you scroll about.
· Make some magic and add twinkling lights to some trees year round to cast shadows and set the garden aglow.
· Add some lace. Plant lacy ferns, Japanese maples, thick wavy foliage.
· Bring in contrast with thorny high level branches or plants. Throw in some curves with a Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree that has branches that twist in every direction.
· Bring on the Zen with large boulders and sand. The Japanese flair brings relaxation.
· Grow crazy with bright clashing colors – or not.
· Hide outdoor speakers streaming light classical music. Rely on Mother Nature’s music with wind or water.
· Visit antique shops, dumpster dive, or hit garage sales for unique art or metal pieces to place in the garden as art pieces. Don’t be afraid of spray cans either to add flair.
· Don’t forget to have seating everywhere. You never know who will be “wooed” to a particular room in your garden. Places where nothing will grow because of too many roots or shade make perfect living rooms.
· Pick up unusual plants to add to your garden. Add tropical plants to your northern gardens and cool loving plants to your winter gardens in the south. Shake things up.
· Don’t forget to appeal to your own senses and woo yourself!
The word “woo” can mean something different to everyone. Last month we had a team building exercise in our work area where we shared our StrengthsFinder 2.0 results. If you haven’t read Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder book, I encourage you to pick it up and take the test StrengthsFinder 2.0. It’s incredible how accurately Rath’s test pinpoints your key gifts. Our teams strengths were varied and it was eye opening to see how we can play off each other. Some of us had more focus, others are more strategic. We had two empathetic and consensus builders, the rest of us not so much.
One coworker in particular is highly extroverted and social. However, he was shocked that he didn’t have the strengths of “relationship builder” or “woo” as strength. Guess what? Woo doesn’t always go hand and hand with extroversion. The art of relationship building and woo are truly rare and those that “have it” are often more subtle and subliminal about sharing this often elusive leadership skill.
I worked for a manager who truly knows how to authentically “woo” a room and people. He works a room with confidence and is so genuine. He’s more reserved than outgoing. Everyone knows that he’s there, yet he doesn’t make a spectacle of himself. He is a silent, confident, influencing, gifted leader with woo. He has the ability to influence and inspire the actions, decisions, and thinking of others without being boisterous or raising eyebrows. I’m envious and always smile when people think of woo as being just effective at working a room and connecting with anyone. That my friends, is not what woo is all about!
It goes without saying that in order to woo others there is indeed a social aspect. If you want woo, you need social intelligence that can influence others. You need to be able to socially integrate yourself without being pushy. The ability to connect on a human and emotional level goes without saying. You need to be willing to put yourself “out there” but without demanding to be the center of attention.
How to get on your “WOO”
- Be subtle with your words and actions, not loud
- Build consensus with intent
- Focus on relationship, not numbers
- Communicate over lines, departments, titles
- Develop strong personal influence
- Use emotional appeal with caution and deliberation
- Cooperatively appeal to others
- It’s never about you. Ask questions of others and focus on them
- Listen with intent with your mind and body.
- Develop quiet trust in everything that you say and do
- Be consistent
- Remain flexible yet assertive
- Don’t gossip, repel negative talk, let people know that you don’t play that game
Becoming a “Woo Master” doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, life experiences, focus, and a strong desire to make a difference. What are YOU doing right now to get your woo on?