Real communication is human

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Have you ever felt better when a company or service says that? Has anyone?

What’s the point in sharing those words? What did the person who made the decision behind that messaging think or hope was going to happen to those who read or heard it? And more importantly, why didn’t a real person just communicate like a real human? Imagine the difference between the boilerplate language and, “We know we let you down. There’s just no good excuse. We’re so sorry. We really want to make things better if you’ll let us.”

Lesson #25 of my final 31 posts: Sound like your real human self.

I understood the basis of this lesson long before I started writing this blog—since 1999, we’ve been teaching our students at Collegewise to sound like themselves in their college essays.

But what I didn’t realize ten years ago was how pervasive seemingly non-human communication is.

Banal cover letters from job applicants, canned statements from CEOs, prepared talking points from politicians, bullet pointed presentations (read aloud to audiences) from speakers, emotionless email requests for meetings or information or advice–all of these examples would be dramatically improved if the human composing the message just communicated with the humans on the receiving end.

To improve any of your communication, in an email, in person, on the phone, to a group or an individual, start with these four questions:

  1. What is this communication for?
  2. Who is it for? The more specific, the better.
  3. What change are you trying to create as a result of this interaction?
  4. And most importantly, how would you say it if the person were sitting in front of you?

Lifeless and programmatic is fine if you’re writing code for a computer. But as soon as there’s a human involved, your commutation improves when you sound like your real human self.