This is the 2nd in a series on how to get a team to implement your recommendations. Tip #1 was: Hide Your top 3 Recommendations.
Tip #2: Say “You”, “They”, “Customers”, “Users”, or “Research”. Don’t say “I” — The wording you use when you present your recommendations can have a subtle but important impact. Let’s say you are going to suggest that the information architecture be changed so that there are fewer choices to make from the home page. You could say,
“I think that there are too many items on the top level menu. I’d like to see us pare that down to a smaller number.”
Instead use one of the words above and reframe the recommendation so that it’s not actually YOU making the recommendation. It’s not about you. If you use the word “I” then it becomes your opinion rather than an expert source
Here are some phrases to use instead:
- “You want to be sure that people don’t have too many choices to make at the top level. If you change the information architecture to have few items, then it will be easier for customers to make a decision quickly about where to go at the site.”
- “Users will get confused if there are too many choices at the top level of the menu.”
- “Research shows that if you offer too many choices, then people won’t choose anything. Sheena Iyengar and Barry Schwartz are two researchers who have some interesting studies on this. You want to limit the number of choices at the top level.”
In each of these examples you are not stating your opinion. If team members disagree they aren’t disagreeing with you. They are going against users, research, and customers. They will feel the need to present their own evidence if they are going to ignore or object to your recommendation. You are framing recommendations as being from a larger and more important source. It will be harder to push your idea aside this way. You will be more persuasive.
What do you think? Have you tried altering your wording this way? What was the result?
And in case you are interested in Sheena Iyengar or Barry Schwartz’s work, I have links to the books on Amazon below.