As I was heading out on my first date, my father gave me some conversation advice: “Talk about things she is interested in.” It worked! Instead of telling her about my favorite movie (Star Wars, of course), I asked what her favorite movie was.
Adopting a “you” attitude rather than a “me” attitude works not just on dates but also in business. If you write to colleagues and clients and customers all about your world, they likely won’t care. If you instead place your message in their world, you’ll connect.
How can I adopt a “you” attitude?
To shift your message into the reader’s world, do the following:
1. Ask yourself, “What does my reader want?” Think from the perspective of your reader. Then show how your idea benefits the person.
I just got wonderful tickets to see the touring company of Hamilton, so I need you to take my shift on Wednesday.
You recently said you needed to pick up more hours. How about taking my Wednesday shift? I’ll cover for you when you need time off.
2. Put customers and clients ahead of your company. Don’t tout what a great business you have. Instead, show how wonderful the customer will feel because of your business.
Reymund Remodeling installs the most windows and siding in the tri-state area.
You’ll love your draft-free windows and your maintenance-free siding, expertly installed by Reymund Remodeling.
3. Reduce “I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine.” If first-person singular pronouns fill your writing, you are in your own world. Recast the ideas using “you” language.
I need help with reorganizing my sales contacts in the new system.
Your expertise with the new system could really help me reorganize sales contacts.
4. Use “we,” “us,” “our,” and “ours” to connect with readers. Avoid using “we” to exclude the reader. Instead, use “we” inclusively to foster teamwork.
We reviewed your proposal and decided we will proceed with your idea.
We can work together to make this proposal work for all of us.
5. Avoid “you” in negative situations. It can sound accusatory.
We did not choose you to be Employee of the Month.
Another staffer will be Employee of the Month.
6. Show empathy and gratitude. Feel what your reader feels and connect with the person.
Keep submitting ideas. One of these times, you’ll come up with something good.
Although we can’t implement this change now, please keep the great ideas coming!