The Difference One Small Word Can Make

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Karen Kalutz, speaking to participants in our Executive Seminar.  She  frequently coaches speakers to replace “you” with  “we.”

“You have the easiest job in the world,” the boss said to his staff.

That’s what one speaker tried out on us when we were practicing delivering messages to different audiences.

He meant it as encouragement: Our company makes a great product, one that people love. Your job is easy, because all you have to do is get this product they want into their hands.

But of course, there’s every possibility in the world it won’t be heard that way.

Instead, we imagined the staff thinking “thanks for your total lack of understanding” or “sure buster, easy for you to say, you don’t have to do my job.”

So yes, it’s important to frame messages with your audience in mind, a task that can be challenging if you have a difficult message or an audience you need to know better.

But there’s also a simple fix here, one we are always reminding speakers to make.

When possible, go with “we” instead of “you.”

“That simple change helps you align yourself with the audience, rather than setting yourself apart–or up on a podium, preaching down to them,” said Buckley School Director Karen Kalutz in a recent seminar, when giving feedback to a participant.

“We have the easiest job in the world.”  It’s a small change than can keep minds open to hearing  the how and why.