The amazing power of “our”

15Mar10

I recently listened to an interview with one of the product managers at Facebook. During the interview, they briefly touched on the issues that Facebook has experienced whenever they’ve changed the interface or modified the privacy settings. One statement from the Facebook rep really caught my attention, though. While talking about past updates, she said something like this: “People get really upset when you change how privacy settings work.” While the statement is probably quite accurate, the phrasing leaves something to be desired.

In short, when you say that “people” feel a certain way, it distances you from your customer base. “People” by itself creates an us versus them mentality, as if you’re not part of the group and can’t empathize with them. The solution is easy: add the word “our” to the mix. For instance, you could say “our customers” or “our users” are very concerned about privacy. This creates a sense of shared community and shared values between the person talking and the group they’re addressing. Try referring to customers and users this way, and I bet you’ll find it easier to see things from their perspective, too.



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