“I” Language Doesn’t Influence

A few times a week, I endure a rigorous indoor cycle class where all I want is a decent workout. As a communication junkie, what I’ve noticed (and that bugs me more and more) is the use of “I” language. Now, I get that we all learned the importance of “I” language when it comes to difficult conversations and owning your part so that others don’t get defensive (I feel X…), that’s not this.

When we’re giving direction or delivering a message of influence, this is not the time to use “I” language. That is a time to focus on what your listeners need. They don’t care about what YOU need.

Allow me to explain. The instructors will say things like: “I want you to spin faster,” or “I need you to push yourself for one more minute,” or “I want you to think about why you came here today!” And while it’s all said with great enthusiasm—and sometimes to the tune of a drill sergeant playing Beyonce’ or Rihanna in the background—it misses the mark.

Notice how eliminating the “I” part makes it a much stronger message that has its audience in mind: “Spin faster!” “Push yourself for one more minute!” “Think about why you came here today!” Now we’re talking. It’s about me, making it more relevant and influential, with a much greater chance of inspiring me to do it.

It’s also important to avoid “I” language so you come across with more credibility. “I” language softens our message and takes away from the impact you could have. At your next meeting, instead using of phrases like “I think this will increase our business,” or “I believe this will make a difference to our bottom line,” try, instead: “This will increase our business,” or “This will make a difference…” and have supporting benefits and action items (and of course, SHARPs) to back it up.

The next time you’re leading a meeting or a spin class, remember: make it about your audience. You’ll increase your credibility and deliver a powerful message of influence.

Great Messaging is Edgy

Great messaging is edgy. It’s easier to be safe—like when you’re sailing. For any of you who have ever been on a catamaran, it’s safer to have both hulls of the sailboat in the water. But to win, you have to go up on one hull—and the professional sailors even … Continue reading

The Telephone Game

The telephone game is fun, especially as a kid or with kids. It’s the one where everyone sits in a circle and one person would pick a word or phrase then “pass it on” by whispering it to someone next to them. The fun was seeing how much the message changed … Continue reading

The Vampire Effect: Do Your Messages Suck or Stick?

Have you ever seen a cool ad, but can’t recall what it’s actually for? You’re experiencing the Vampire Effect, a term coined after a study conducted by MediaAnalyzer Software & Research, which results concluded that attention-grabbing content—from sexy images to celebrity endorsements—was sucking attention away from what the ad was actually trying … Continue reading

Rule of Three

The Three Musketeers. Sex, drugs and rock n roll. The Star Wars trilogy. Ever notice that throughout literature, pop culture and film, three is a magic number? Beyoncé and her R&B group Destiny’s Child know this well. They started as a quartet but only hit it big as a trio. … Continue reading

Things that Need to Be Said

“Oh, did you get your hair cut?” I say this all the time. In my mind, it’s clear as day that I’ve just given a compliment. But to the person listening, it leaves a lot of doubt and lingering questions. Does he like it? Does it look good? Did I … Continue reading

Raise a Pint to Unexpectedness

It’s rare to catch me watching a commercial. But somehow, between DVR, my kids, Twitter and all the emails in my inbox, there I was, feeling affected by 60 seconds of brilliance. Don’t think it can happen to you? Then watch below: The genius of this ad comes from a … Continue reading

Chipotle Wraps You in Emotion

My career started in advertising, churning out sticky messages to folks like you about everything from cleaning supplies to Powerball tickets. I learned quickly that great ads (and great messages) appeal directly to our emotions. Chipotle (and their ad agency) knows this, too. They’ve been receiving lots of press over … Continue reading

Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

“Considering the inherent value of every person on the planet, I optimistically envision a future where all people are treated equally regardless of what they look like or in what part of the country they live.”    – Not what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said Ever wonder why TED … Continue reading

Parenting Tip: Grid Your Kids

“I hope you won’t be offended. I’ve been practicing the Decker Grid™ on my 2 ½ year old son…Holy smokes. What a great parenting tip!” The Decker Grid™ keeps your message listener-focused with an action and a benefit. You will reach your listeners if you can successfully answer the question, “What’s in it … Continue reading