Words, once spoken, are difficult to retrieve. Yet, everybody yammers away the slightest thing that comes to his or her mind via emails, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums and online groups. The speed of the Information Age has made this more dangerous for many people. Unfortunately, the danger exists in the words being spoken or written and not in the speed of transfer itself.
The Consequences of Using Words Wrongly
“I hate Bill Gate”
Do you use words like this? What happens is that you‘d begin to hate him more and more if you continue to say things like this.
“My daughter is wicked”
Words like this would eventually make your daughter wicked. Instead, you could say,
“My daughter is not nice” or “I do not like Bill Gate”
Do you say,
“I am really angry with you”
What happens? You begin to get angrier even though you weren’t so angry at first. The better way to say this is “I am not happy with you”
Why are these Sentences Wrong? The Way the Brain Works
In the English context, the sentences are not wrong; but, considering the psychological implications, they can cause more harm than you intended.
The brain is a remarkably powerful part of the human body. It does not need a full story to interpret an event.
Studies reveal that the eyes scan words for the important ones and generate the meaning. The same thing happens when we hear; the brain naturally picks the most important words and interprets them.
When you use words like “I hate Bill Gate”, the word ‘hate’ arouses the feeling of hatred at that moment which often extend beyond the original extent of the feeling. However, with the words “I do not like Bill Gate”, the brain would initially prompt you to like Bill Gate and later add the word ‘not’ .
Thus, in order not to extend your feelings beyond what you intended, it is safer to use the milder expression than the tougher ones.
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How this applies to your Online Business Communication
This phenomenon has a deep implication on the words you use in your emails, articles and sales letters.
“Please, do not hesitate to contact me”
We use this expression so many times but it might be suggesting something different from what we intend. In reality, it actually suggests that the person should hesitate in contacting you.
Advantage: If you are selling something and would like to appear credible but wouldn’t want to be bothered by tens and hundreds of complaints, this expression will save you a lot of stress.
Disadvantage: If you sincerely need a lot of feedback from people to help you develop a product or research a market, this expression will cut back a lot of potential responses.
Instead, you can use
“Please, contact me for clarification” or just “Contact for clarification”
This is an interesting part of the psychology of the human mind. Another thing that will interest you is the power of the word ‘because’.
The Power in the Word ‘because’
“Order your Copy now because it’ll save you some money”
Ordinarily, you might say that this is a simple case of ‘what’s in it for me (WIIT)’ but there’s more to it. It is not always about WIIT. Sometimes, what matters is the specificity that the word ‘because’ has introduced.
Brian Clark of Copyblogger blogged about an experiment by Langer that typically demonstrates the Power of Because. In the experiment, over 90% of people conceded to a request that contained ‘because’ as against 60% that conceded to the same request not using the word ‘because’.
The experiment revealed that the addition of the word ‘because’ significantly improved the response rate positively. In fact, it doesn’t really matter what the stated reason is, what matters is that there is a reason.
The Sub-limal Power in Words
“I do not recommend that you read this material unless you are ready to grow your business to a greater level”
Why do marketers sometimes use words like this, especially the more successful marketers?
Coming back to the psychology of the human mind… the brain understands a message like this because it connects the words ‘recommend that you read this material’ with ‘to grow your business to a greater level’ without the other words.
This is sometimes more effective for people who are naturally resistant to new ideas. Their ego is being taking care of by making it plain that they are not compelled to read your material whereas the center of the brain that loves WIIT has been aroused by the presence of the other words.
“You are not compelled to buy any of the products on this page though we sincerely recommend them and vouch for their quality”
Who will read this and not feel like checking out what this trusted person is talking about; and the good thing is they can decide for themselves.
This is a subtle way of selling your products without pushing people. All that is required is that you put these words where they are more likely to see them.
So, always consider the subconscious effects of the words you use in your business communication. Oftentimes, they have far more reaching influence on the action your recipient finally takes.
To finish our course on the Basics of Writing Professional Emails, you may need to dedicate a couple of minutes every day for 5 days. Alternatively, you can simply read up the 5 lessons in the course now. Each lesson comes with a quiz section to help you properly digest what you learn. This course will be of immense benefit to you. Enroll here.