Business Writing Essentials

Them Not You

When you use a personal tone in an email or letter, you can make almost any subject more interesting to the reader. Also, when you write about the reader, not about yourself, you make your message truly engaging.

Always remember that your reader will be thinking:

"Why should I care about this?"

"What does it have to do with me?"

To help make the reader interested in what you have to say, write with two techniques in mind: converse and mirror.


Have a conversation with the reader:

[x] It is our pleasure to introduce our new service.

[+] You really might like our new service.


Make the reader the subject of your sentences:

[x] We appreciate the efforts extended on our behalf.

[+] Thank you for helping.

Exception: The use of the word you should be avoided when it could have a connotation of blame. In this case, change the focus to talk about groups or things:

[x] You must not include sensitive information in your email.

[+] Employees must not include sensitive information in their email.

[+] Email must not include sensitive information.

Do you think this is overdoing it? Being so concerned with making the reader the subject of your sentences? Consider this quote by Dale Carnegie, someone who spent much of his life studying how people can get along better:

"Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language."

He wasn't kidding. Think about it. If your name is Lee, there's a difference between hearing, "Good morning," and hearing, "Good morning, Lee." It feels better.

Lesson: Them Not You
Module: Influence
Course: Business Writing Essentials