Ditch Your Ego if You Want to Persuade

11th March, 2021

Ditch Your Ego if You Want to Persuade

A few weeks ago over breakfast, I read a letter that made me weep into my muesli.


No, it wasn’t from HMRC.


It was from a women’s clothing shop I’d bought from years ago, and who were trying to win me back.


They’d written down all the good things that they were doing in their business. Their customer service improvements.  Their Trustpilot ratings.  Their Living Wage and B corp status.  The eco credentials.


Impressive stuff.  But I didn’t see any of that.


All I saw was ‘I’, ‘we’ and ‘our’.  Over and over again.


In fact, I only read the letter in full because I wanted to share it with you –  as a brilliant example of how NOT to persuade.


Because to get people to do what we want with our writing, we need to make it all about them, not us.  


We need to talk about our reader far more often than we talk about ourselves.


But this letter doesn’t do that – mentions of ‘we’, ‘I’, and ‘our’ outweigh the ‘you’ and ‘your’ by 3.5x.


A big mistake.


But with just some small tweaks they could have made this letter so much more compelling.


e.g. Instead of ‘Our packaging is plastic-free and biodegradable’ they could have written ‘You can shop guilt-free, with plastic-free and biodegradable packaging.’


NOW I understand what’s in it for me to keep reading.


So whether you’re writing a blog, email, letter, presentation, proposal or angry note to stop people stealing your oat milk, don’t lead with ‘me, me, me’.


Start your key information with ‘you’ and ‘your’ if you want to get and keep attention, persuade and influence.

University of Cambridge


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