Monday, March 23, 2009

Improve Your Communications Skills With One Word

This post was inspired by (and largely borrowed from) The Two Most Important Words in Blogging, by Brian Clark of Copyblogger.

You can improve your communications skills, make more compelling arguments, be more persuasive and get better reactions from people in both speaking and writing.

And you can do this simply by using one special word.

That word is because.

When you are making a statement, argument or request, it is important to be specific and to explain your motivations. Ensuring that people understand your needs and your situation can be as simple as providing a reason why — and because is the most effective transition word for explaining that.

“Be specific in your assertions, and always give a reason why,” says Brain Clark of Copyblogger. “Especially when you want people to take some form of action.”

Just how powerful is the word because? Social Psychologist Ellen Langer performed an experiment in which she asked to cut in line to use a photocopy machine. She tested three different ways of asking and recorded the responses she received.

When she said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”

60% of the people said okay.

When she said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”

94% of the people said okay.

It seems that supplying the explanation that she was in a rush made a huge difference in the effectiveness of the request.

But here’s the really cool part. When she said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

93% of the people still said okay!

The word because is such a powerful trigger that it doesn’t make much of a difference whether the reason why is really relevant or not. The point is that people usually respond well to specific requests that give a reason why.

So, make a point to use this word in your writing and your daily interactions. Because it just might make a big impact.

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