For years, experts have been telling us it is essential to adopt a formal, professional communication style. But I believe it is way more powerful to drop the formality and add some humanity back into communication.
As independent business owners, we spend lots of our time interacting with all sorts of people,including clients, suppliers and consultants. Our interactions can be in person, on the telephone, by email or even SMS.
If you do some reading on the subject, you’ll quickly find the predominant school of thought is that all communication must be ‘professional’, and that if it’s not, you risk damaging your reputation or credibility.
Part of communicating professionally, it seems, is keeping our language and sentence structure formal, using important sounding words and not letting anyone in on the big secret: that we are actually real people.
For example, saying: “Please le us know at your earliest convenience if this appointment is suitable”, rather than: “If this doesn’t work for you, just give me a call and we’ll work out another time”.
The first is cold, bland, and sounds like a business with no soul. The second sounds warm, friendly and actually feels like the sender wants a personal relationship with you.
At the risk of flying in the face of conventional wisdom, I believe our status as solopreneurs gives us a huge advantage over bigger businesses. We can take the opportunity to let our real selves shine through in our communications, and in the process we can differentiate ourselves from our competitors. There are a few of the big guys that do warm communication well. If you are a Virgin customer, you’ll know that they excel at friendly and fun communications.
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The reality is that people really notice and appreciate the difference between the two. I can’t count the number of times that clients have mentioned how much they appreciate my relaxed style and sense of humour.
So take a look at the messages you are sending out. Do they need to be rewritten in plain conversational English? Are the icicles dripping off the pages of your emails and letters, or is the hearth warm and inviting?
After all –who wants to sound big, bland and corporate like everybody else? Leave that to those who think it’s important, although why they do escapes me!