The other day I spent about three frustrating hours on the phone trying to talk to an actual human being. I had to tackle some business issues with my financial institution, my insurance company, and my Internet service provider, all in one morning — what a mistake! After wading through the usual voice mail prompts with each company (“choose one if you want our location, choose two if you don’t” etc.) I’d finally reach the option to speak with a live person, only to be put on hold. I waited nearly one hour on the line to speak with someone at my insurance company. Just as she said “hello,” I was cut off!

I’m sure you can relate to my experience that morning— it’s all too common. Sadly, one of the downsides of technology today is the way it has depersonalized so much of the human element in communication. But, on the positive side, you can avoid this problem by making sure to personalize your own business communication. It’s an effective way to make your messages compelling. For example, when writing or speaking to anyone in business, consider the following.

Three Ways To Make Your Messages Compelling

  • Use the other person’s name. Our names are part of what makes each of us an individual. Similarly, use personal pronouns.

    “Dear Sandra, I am concerned about the difficulty I understand you had trying to reach us the other day” is much more inviting than “Re: Complaint Number 5000: This email is being sent because apparently there is some kind of problem.”
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the individual with whom you are communicating. Make sure you express some understanding of that person’s situation.

    I gather that we mistakenly hung up on you and you’re understandably frustrated” is going to resonate more strongly than “Yeah, that happens sometimes.”
  • Use the active voice so that sentences begin with a person, not an idea.

    For example, instead of: “The high volume of calls is a reality that customers have to live with,” you could say, “We try our best to respond to our customers, but the high volume of calls does make this challenging.”

Tell Stories or Anecdotes

Another way to think about it is: Approach business communication in the same way you would share a story or an anecdote with friends. The content of your communication may be impersonal, but you want to be able to draw in your reader or your listener- to grab their attention. Whether you’re writing or you’re speaking, be sure to use language that will resonate with the person you want to connect with. If you’re writing to a prospect who might not be familiar with the service you’re trying to promote/sell, describe the benefits of the service, rather than the statistics that support its value. Or, as a perceptive article at Think Advisor puts it, communicate in a relevant way — that’s the path to building a relationship of “comfort, familiarity, credibility and trust.”

In other words, work on achieving the exact opposite kind of relationship that is being built when someone hangs up on you after you’ve been listening to voice mail recordings for an hour. (Or two, or three!)

Do you need help personalizing your business communication so you can reach more new prospects? Contact me at The Language Lab and I’ll show you how to write emails that grab attention.


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