Visualize this: If you read this article
you will be a more effective HR pro, management coach, and
communicator. All because of two very important words and why those
words are so powerful.
Both words can be found in the first sentence. Did you identify them?
If not, keep reading, because the answer will unfold below.
The Most Important Word: “You”
Did you find the opening sentence engaging? If so, why?
Better yet, who was the first sentence focused on?
HR is seen as a service organization. Forget that the general population may not understand the number-crunching and agonizing decisions related to comp, benefits, and headcount. They only know that you either have--or haven't--done something for them.
You benefit when the rest of the organization knows how you've benefited the general population and long-term well being --even when the decisions and actions are difficult ones. Truth be told, much of HR's time is spent explaining. Think about it.
When it comes to the spoken word, “you” is the most
powerful one in the English language. Why? Because people are ultimately
interested in fulfilling their own needs.
The same substantive content will be more effective with the focus
shifted toward the reader. One of the easiest ways to do that is to
maximize the use of “you”, while minimizing or eliminating “I” and “me”.
Every time you enter a discussion, coaching session, or presentation, check your focus. How many times does you and its derivations appear? What about I, me, "the company?"
Adjust accordingly. I know it sounds simple; the results will be profound.
One of the most important characteristics of influential conversation is specificity. The more specific you are, the more credible your position.
There are many ways to be specific. One of the best is simply giving a reason why. And the most effective transition word when giving a reason why is because.
The power of because has been documented by Ellen Langer and related by influence researcher and expert Robert Cialdini. Social psychologist Langer conducted an experiment where she asked to move ahead in a queue to use a copy machine.
She tested three different ways of asking, and noted the results:
Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?
60% said Yes.
Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?
94% said Yes.
It appears that giving the “reason why” of because I’m in a rush boosted the effectiveness of the request immensely.
But here’s the biggie:
Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?
93% said Yes.
The triggering word “because” is so powerful that it didn’t seem
to matter that the “reason why” was no different than the reason others were in line.
Be specific with your assertions and always offer a reason why: especially when you want people to take action.
Bonus suggestion: Share this with your internal clients because you want them to bump up their game, too.
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