Messages from the Masters
Different Words - Different Results by Bob Burg

In a previous issue, I used a quote by Albert Schweitzer, which basically teaches that those who are happiest in life are those who have sought and discovered how to serve others. I pointed out how that quote reminds me of the free-enterprise system, where the amount of money one makes is often directly proportional to how many people they serve (through providing products and/or services that others want and/or need).

Immediately after the issue was distributed, I received the following letter:

"Bob, I like the Albert Schweitzer quote but I think you are stretching it a bit to relate it to making money and is a wrong use of the quote. Letting yourself down there, Bob."

That's fine. We all have a right to our opinions, and she might be correct. Since I've been wrong so often in my life, it's difficult for me not to consider that as a legitimate possibility :-).

I'm always grateful when readers take the time to respond to my articles. That way, I know you're out there, you're considering what I'm saying and, your perceptive insights provide me with a different perspective on my subject matter.

Being that the issue's feature article was on how to offer advice in a way that would cause a person to be more receptive to it, I shared with her some ideas in a personal letter. I'll now share my thoughts with you.

The writer's opening sentence was...

<<"Bob, I like the Albert Schweitzer quote but I think you are stretching it a bit to relate it to making money and is a wrong use of the quote.>>

It was excellent that she opened by letting me know she enjoyed the quote. This made me feel very receptive to what she would say next. That's always an effective way to begin the persuasion process.

In continuing the sentence, she let me know where she disagreed. That's also great. However, in order to make the reader (in this case, me) more receptive, I might have said, "In my opinion, you are stretching it a bit to relate it to making money and this could possibly be an incorrect use of the quote."

Saying, "In my opinion" tells the person that he is not being *told* something or chastised, but rather that the writer's opinion is such. As noted last week, that makes the actual upcoming "chastisement" a lot more acceptable to the reader. Then, the phrase, "...could possibly be an incorrect use of the quote" leaves room for the recipient to "breathe." If one says, "could possibly be", that is much more acceptable to the recipient's ego than the word "is." And, saying, "incorrect use" more acceptable than the word, "wrong." (Also, notice I omitted the word "but" and that way, "In my opinion" simply begins another sentence. The word, "but" signals disagreement and is better left either unused, or substituted with "and.")

The next sentence was:

<<"Letting yourself down there Bob.">>

Here, I'd have to wonder what the writer wished to communicate to me. If one's intention is to hurt the recipient's feelings or show a bit of personal disappointment, I'd imagine that particular wording is a good way to get their point across. It might, however, also make the recipient defensive and less likely to be willing to change. I'm assuming that people read WWI so they can learn how to persuade others (positively) into being receptive to their ideas and even accept them as their own. In that case, the sentence might not achieve its intended goal.

When writing a persuasive letter, I always ask myself, "Is this a sentence that might make a person receptive *to* my idea or defensive *about* it...thus resistant to it?"

Naturally, I let the person who wrote me the letter know that these are just my thoughts and certainly don't mean I'm correct. And, you know what? She just might be very right regarding my usage of the quote. I'll have to consider her suggestion and ask a couple of others as well, but her observation is a good one.

Here's a quick look at how I might slightly adjust her letter in order to take her excellent observation and possibly improve the method of persuasive communication.

<<"Bob, Thank you for the great information in your newsletter. I really like the Albert Schweitzer quote. In my opinion, comparing his quote with free-enterprise is stretching it a bit and could possibly be an incorrect use of the quote. Again, enjoy your publication. Keep up the great work."

Pardon me for appearing to compliment my own newsletter, however, to illustrate a point, that technique happens to be an effective way to immediately trigger a person's receptivity button and get past the "gatekeeper of their mind"...their ego.

When writing a letter of critique, ask yourself, "What am I attempting to accomplish and, does what I'm writing increase my chances of doing so?"

I'm glad to have you with us. Have an awesome WINNING WITHOUT INTIMIDATION week! 

Bob Burg

Bob Burg is author of "Winning Without Intimidation" and "Endless Referrals." To receive 20% off on Bob's products visit or call 877-929-0439.

Provided courtesy of  Jim Rohn International