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Don't hook your impact!

2 April 2024

Recently, I received an email from the school about something my son had blurted out during class. An intervention as it is called.

I am not going to dwell on the content of the intervention. I do want to dwell on the way the intervention was drafted. Delivering a negative message is never obvious. Especially if you don't know who the person is who will read your communication.

Do you want to get a message across clearly and plainly, without causing a reaction? Then there are some things you can take into account that will increase the impact of your communication.

In the case of the intervention e-mail, the teacher wanted to inform us about why the sanction was given. Because of the verbiage in the e-mail, the e-mail missed its target, and my first reaction was, ‘What a drama queen that teacher is!’

The popping up of the growling lioness, ready to send a reply and point out the teacher's overreaction, came mainly because of the use of words in the e-mail:

  • My disappointment could not be greater...

  • Unfortunately, X did not appear motivated to take this opportunity.

  • X felt it was more important to maintain social contact with some fellow students than...

Too much emotion in the message causes a loss of impact and nibbles away at your credibility. And besides, you are likely to get a rebuttal from the other side.

Remove loaded language and words that express strong emotion from your communication. So avoid words such as: apparently, severely disappointed, over and over again.

They are ‘’hooks‘’ that your reader gets stuck on. The recipient gets ‘hooked’ on your emotion, as it were, and often reacts to your emotion and not to the actual message.

As a result, the essence of your message is lost and you risk a round trip back and forth in communication.

Make it Crisp:

Want to convey a difficult or negative message?

Formulate your message neutrally, with respect and check for ‘’hooks‘’.