Writing Skills (including email) and Speaking Skills for Issuing Directives
Do you know where to place the subject for maximum effect?
When issuing directives either verbally or in writing, you need to be aware of techniques that increase the odds that the reader/listener will comprehend what you are saying and respond as you would wish. This means developing your writing skills and your speaking skills, starting with being aware of where you are placing your subject.
During a recent communication training for managers and supervisors on-site workshop, a woman asked me why she struggles so much with getting people’s attention and respect when she gives orders. I asked her to give me a few orders the way she would normally do it, and I immediately discovered what a big part of her communication challenge was. She was misplacing her subject.
Effective writing is important, and that means constructing an effective email every time we send one out, particularly in the workplace. We frequently sabotage our message as soon as we begin speaking by choosing the wrong subject. If you listen to the average communicator giving instructions, for example, he/she begins with “You need” or “I need,” and that ruins what comes after.
Remember: If you’re giving instructions, the most important part of the sentence is the beginning, or in other words, the subject. Choose your subject wisely, and avoid using “I need” or “you need” unless your needs, or the needs of the other person, truly are the most important part of the message. Figure out what the most important thing you’re talking about is, and place that at the beginning of your sentence. This comes up in most of my on-site and public courses, because believe it or not, most people misplace their subjects until they take some type of professional communication training course.
For example, watch how these messages change when the subject changes:
“I need that report by the end of the day.” Weak, huh? “That report is due by the end of the day.” NOW you’re talking!
“You need to pay attention during training.” Isn’t that terrible? That’s how a new supervisor at Yippee Burger would talk. “This training deserves your full attention.” Now THAT’S how a CEO would say it.
You can see how changing the subject changes the entire message. People without studied writing skills and studied verbal skills misplace their subjects all the time, and it diminishes their communication power. Don’t make that mistake.
A DANGER PHRASE list helps you purge these from your verbal patterns. Here are some danger phrases for managers and supervisors:
“I’d appreciate…” “You need…” “I need…” “I’d suggest…” “I’d recommend…” “Would you mind…” “Do you think…”
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