The other day at the train station I saw a young lady in a queue to buy a ticket at the machine. She was the 4th in line and kept huffing, tutting, sighing, and looking at the clock, then looking at her watch and then looking at the platform.
Now, from writing that down we can probably assume that she was running late and needed a ticket quickly.
But the people in front of her couldn’t see all of this. They could probably hear her tuts and sighs but in the noise of a busy train station where a lot of people are rushing and racing, it didn’t really stand out.
So, there’s a good chance they never even gave her a second thought but I’m willing to bet she left that queue fuming about how unreasonable people were for:
- Not noticing her
- Not letting her go in front to buy a ticket first
The more she huffed and puffed, the more the 3 people in front were being demonised in her head as being unhelpful and horrible to her, yet it would probably have been diffused had she asked the person in front:
“Hey, I’m in a real hurry, what’s the chance I could hop in front and get my ticket first? Only if it wouldn’t make you late of course.”
What’s the worst that could have happened?
- They say no
- They say no and they’re rude
But she’s already leaving the queue thinking they’re rude anyway, and there’s the slight chance that they understand, empathaise and say yes.
Had she clearly stated what it was that she wanted, and given a reason for it, there’s a good chance she would have persuaded someone to wait a few minutes whilst she bought her tickets. These same principles of persuasion are at work in copywriting all the time.
If you’re not clear about what it is you want and what it is you want others to do, you can be communicating (huffing) for a very long time without anyone taking the slightest bit of notice.
- Explain what you want
- Explain what you want them to do
- Ask if it’s possible
Whether it’s a job, a client, or a favour, don’t assume your audience knows what you want them to do, it will stop you throwing your hands up in despair and thinking they’re all rude and ignorant.