Do you ever feel frustrated that you are wasting your time having to clarify your written communication? Or worse still, there is no response and you need people to take action.
We are all unique and respond to words and phrases in different ways. In this technology age where email and text messaging tends to be the preferred means of communication, it is more important than ever to be clear and concise. But is what is clear and concise for you, the same for your reader?
The added challenge with emails is that your audience may not necessarily be one person. Your audience could and often is, many people.
How do you determine your audience's preferred words and phrases so that you can weave them in to your message to gain their attention? It's not like you can ask them!
Preferred words and phrases
When it comes to writing, we tend to use words and phrases that we feel 'comfortable' with. Do you see what I mean? Does that sound like something you do?
I am not referring to using complex words, such as cattywampus, when not arranged correctly, gives a clearer understanding of what is meant.
Using simple words and phrases keeps the meaning of what is written clear and easier to understand. The only exception is when industry-specific language is essential. Even in these instances it is important to consider if everyone who will be reading your email will be familiar with the industry jargon. If not, then ensure that clarification is also provided.
How we process information
We all process information differently. There is no 'correct' way to process information. There is just a preferred way.
There are three main ways that we process information.
A visual person would use expressions such as
"I see what you mean."
An auditory person would say,
"I hear what you're saying."
A kineasthetic person would say,
"That feels right. Let's go with it."
We have all three and no person can just be for example, a 'visual' person. What we do have is a preference for one over the others. Do you know your preference? Think back to the examples given. Which of the statements makes more sense to you?
How can we use this knowledge when writing an email with multiple readers?
If you are aware that your readers have a preference for different words and phrases then you can use this knowledge to structure your message to gain their attention.
How can you work it out?
A simple technique is to spend a little time looking closely at emails sent to you. You will find there are preferred phrases that are used. From there you can then use similar words/phrases when replying.
Here are some phrases that could help you identify your reader's preferences and connect more deeply with them.
For a visual person:
Mental image Short sighted Looks like Get a perspective on
For an auditory person:
Clear as a bell Clearly expressed Loud and clear Voiced an opinion
For a kinaesthetic person:
Get a handle on Slipped my mind Pull some strings Start from scratch
Initiating the email communication
What if you are initiating the email communication? Then intersperse phrases and words that appeal to the different senses. For example, the following question covers both kinaesthetic and auditory preferences:
Does it feel like it could really speak to you?
By using words and phrases that your reader can relate to (whether they realise it or not), you will find that you will have a greater chance of having your message understood the first time. In turn, giving you time back in your busy day.