It all hinges on the power of one tiny word.
Proper English is a beautiful thing, but when it comes to succeeding in today’s loud and crowded marketplace, you benefit by catching people’s attention. You are more likely to accomplish your goals if you relate to people. In spite of what your English teachers told you about using third person, using the word “you” (and “your”) helps you connect with your audience.
No matter what your profession, there are times when your success depends on your ability to sell, pitch, market, convince, persuade, trade, suggest, coach, counsel, explain and/or motivate another person. That all becomes easier if you address your reader or listener directly in the second person.
So, if you’re explaining something in an email, try to use the word “you.” If you’re giving a speech to prospective clients, paint a picture with “you.” If you want to empower and motivate your colleagues, use “you” to make your message resonate with them.
The word “you” personalizes a conversation. It brings down barriers and erodes the formalities that may exist between you and the other person.
You at Work
“You” can help prospective clients picture themselves using your products and services. For instance, if you are selling a time-share condo overlooking the ocean, your would-be buyer might be receptive to this marketing message:
“Picture yourself spending two weeks here every year. You can sleep in each morning in this king-sized bed, windows open with the sea breeze gently waking you up before you head over to your ultra-modern kitchen for your morning coffee. You step out onto your deck overlooking the massive resort pool. Your only problem here in paradise will be deciding what to do. Will you relax by the pool, or will you take one of the hundreds of day adventures waiting for you in the surrounding area?”
Where do I sign up?
One Last Thing
When I’m writing books or delivering speeches, I try to put “you” into the text even if the story I’m telling is about somebody else. When I use a highly successful person’s life or accomplishments to illustrate a point, I occasionally like to slip in “you” and “your” when I’m really talking about “him/his” or “her/hers.” Audience members are more likely to remember the point, if they feel like they are part of the story.
YOU will be a much more effective seller, marketer and persuader if YOU simply remember to transpose YOUR audience into YOUR stories.
One last thing: There is a particular use of the word “you” that may backfire on you. Careful communicators avoid saying, “you must,” “you should,” “you better” or “you have to.” That’s bossy. It turns people off. Such language reminds you of when you were in trouble as a kid, like when your mother demanded: “You have to clean your room!” or “You better finish your homework before you go outside!”