Do you know what happens when you blame someone for their actions?
One of two things…
Scenario One: their pride takes a hit. They get angry. They may turn that blame on you. And they won’t listen to anything you wish to share with them.
Scenario Two: their already-suffering self-esteem drops even lower. They negatively internalize what you’re saying. And they shut down – refusing to listen to anything you wish to share with them.
Bottom line…they stop listening. And you won’t be able to build the relationship. Or sell anything.
When we’re writing copy, we’ve got to be super careful not to write anything that could be misconstrued as blame. While perhaps our words were chosen in an attempt to motivate…if they’re not perceived that way, you’ve lost your prospect.
So how do you encourage your prospects to take action without risking alienation?
One way is to try what I just did in the previous paragraphs. When you think a topic is sensitive, switch the pronoun “you” to the pronoun “we”. Throw yourself into the scenario. That way, you and the prospect are on the same team. No accusations here. You’re working together to make life better for everyone.
Another option is to come straight out and say, “You are not to blame.” Boy, we’re already hard enough on ourselves, aren’t we? Wouldn’t it be nice to know someone is in your corner? They understand that circumstances were outside of your control?
If your prospects are facing bankruptcy…it’s not their fault. This year has knocked everyone flat on their faces.
If your prospects are overweight…it’s not their fault. Having 3 babies in 3 years added 50 pounds of weight I am still fighting to get off. Not my fault. 😉
However, their fault or not, they have to be the ones to change it. (With your help, of course!) And that’s where you focus your message.
A final option is to ask for their help. You know, the whole “Help me, help you” approach.
Back when I was teaching school, I had a super rough day. The talking and distractions were non-stop. And nothing I said made any difference to the students. So after school, I spent 2 hours writing emails to parents.
What I wanted to say is, “Your kid is a punk. He’s loud. He’s obnoxious. And I have better things to do with my time than deal with him.”
But the last thing I needed was for these parents to turn the blame on me.
That being the case, the email I sent said something to the affect of:
“Could you help me? We have a lot of friends in our class who enjoy talking and laughing together. However, those distractions are making it difficult to teach the lesson. And I’m concerned it will prevent your child from learning the content. I know how smart your child is and I want to make sure they get the experience (and grade) they deserve. Anything you can do to encourage them to stay focused would be very much appreciated.”
I sent 11 emails out that day. The following morning, I had 11 responses in my inbox. ALL of them said, “We’re so sorry our child is misbehaving. We have talked to them. Please let us know if you have any other problems.”
As you write your content…be mindful of how easily you can trigger your prospects. And steer clear of any language that might indicate blame. Instead…approach your prospects with empathy and understanding. Your relationships will grow stronger. And you will be one step closer to closing the sale.