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“Your account has been credited”

I'm fanatical about looking beyond words to the meaning behind the structure. It's something I picked up even before I got into NLP and marketing, and the study of the mind and motivation, when I was studying linguistics at university, more years ago than I care to admit these days 🙂

As a result I almost can't help myself when it comes to questioning everything that I see or read.

Which is why an email from my VOIP provider caught my eye a moment ago.

The subject line read "Your account has been credited".

I immediately felt a sense of relief, knowing that my account now had more minutes in it and that I'd be able to continue using it for calls to clients, etc.

Then I stopped and really thought about it, and realised that it also means "your (bank/credit card) account has been charged". Suddenly, the relief was gone, and I immediately started to wonder which account had been charged, how much, when, and other questions like that.

That's the impact language can have. It's about the pictures a word creates in the mind of the reader or listener. It's about the emotions those pictures create. And it's about the behaviours those behaviours cause, both in the mind of the listener and in the mind of the speaker.

It's why I send "fee notes" not "invoices". It's why I have "clients" not "customers". It's why I'm a "consultant" not an "adviser".

Notice, also, that each of those words will have created associations in your own mind, even though I didn't define any of them.

So what words do you use when you're talking to your target audience? And what impact do they have on your audience?

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