The little word that makes a big difference

the power of you

Want people to read what you write? Of course you do. Then talk to them directly. You may not know their name, but they all have one thing in common: they’re all called ‘you’. Recently, I saw this sign at a local supermarket. It stopped me in my tracks. I’ve probably seen thousands of fire-exit signs in my life, but I’ve never given them much attention. Until now. This one made me pull out my phone-that’s-really-a-camera and take a picture. One day, I thought, it might be me trapped inside that burning building, scrambling to get past a woman with a trolley filled with Coke and thick-crust pizzas, and a man arguing about money-off coupons while thick, acrid smoke billowed around us. You. It’s such an obvious tactic to use, that we often overlook it. At my gym, there’s a list of 10 ‘rules and regulations’ (what’s the difference, exactly?). One says: the male members shall wear a training top. Quite apart from the unintended innuendo, there’s the imperious use of ‘shall’. I’m tempted to strip off just to see what happens. The notice is signed (inevitably) ‘The Management’. And here’s the thing: never once does it say you. So the tone is cold, distant, and bossy. I’m likely to make a note of the rules simply to remember to break them as often as possible. If you want people to take notice, try these three things:
  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Be direct.
  3. Use ‘you’.
By order, The Management