Hard vs. Soft You’s, the Key to Connecting with others

188128104Your success is often impacted by how you use the word “You” when speaking to others.

When you are making a sales presentation, communicating an idea, presenting from the stage, or talking to your kids, “You” will be perceived by the other person as either Hard or Soft.

The Hard “You”

A Hard “You” occurs when “You” is used to connect directly to one person, but is done in such a way that it comes across as demanding, condescending, or mean.

The Soft “You”

A Soft “You” on the other hand will be perceived as being more caring and supportive, thereby garnering stronger support from the other person.

An example:

When dealing with your staff you might say:

“You need to follow this process.”

This will typically be received as a Hard “You.”

  • It is a short and directive statement.
  • The phrase “You need to” is typically perceived as an authoritarian demand to take a certain course of action.
  • There is no benefit attached to the statement. Most people (Gen Y and Millennials in particular) want to know why a request is being made and what benefit it is for them.

Phrases that are typically linked to a Hard “You” include the following.

  • You need to…
  • You always should…
  • You should never…
  • Why did you… .

As you become more aware of these phrases, you will start identifying patterns in your speaking that are likely leading to Hard “You” conversations.

The Alternative

 “I know you want to be successful, and when you follow this process

you will getter better results, faster.”

This statement will typically be perceived as a Soft “You” and will generate better results.

  • You have taken the assumptive position that they want to be successful, which will be received as an acknowledgment of them.
  • You have taken the assumptive position of “when you follow” as opposed to “if you follow.”
  • A clear benefit has been provided in “better results, faster.”

The formula for creating a soft “You” statement is:

Acknowledgement + Assumption + Benefit

Start with Acknowledgement of what they want or are doing well, position what you want them to do (or not do) with an Assumptive Statement, and provide a brief benefit statement.

Try a variety of combinations based on your personality and situation to determine the combination that is most effective for you.

As you work towards increased success, developing an increased awareness of your spoken words will improve adoption of your ideas.


MarkVickers-011Mark A. Vickers

Speaker, Coach, Author of “Speaking Is Selling – 51 Tips Your Mother Taught You”

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