Conventional wisdom among writers is to assume readers have the intelligence of seventh graders. The premise is keep your message simple enough for a child to understand.

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When it comes to communicating with clients, I believe the opposite is true. The more you treat your customers like they are smart, well-intentioned grown-ups, the more receptive they’ll be to your expertise. So, before explaining something to a client, demonstrate your confidence in their competence. Start with phrases along the lines of, “You probably already know…” or “I doubt this is new to you…” Not surprisingly, customers like to do business with people who seem to think they are important and smart. It’s a simple, powerful approach I call The Humility Advantage.

I wish I’d learned this sooner. Eventually I discovered that the more you treat clients like smart adults, the more receptive they’ll be to your expertise. Early in my career I used to finish my correspondence with phrases like, “If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call…” Today, as a customer myself, I still receive emails that end with that phrase. Clients who have questions know they can ask. The offer to accept their questions is not only clichéd – which sounds like we’re not really thinking about what we’re writing – it’s also condescending. Like the client is too timid or too ignorant to ask questions.

As I point out in my Trusted Advisor presentations, every phrase you share either builds or diminishes trust. Next time you write to your client, you can avoid the unintended insult and invite a response by simply finishing with, “Your thoughts?”


  1. Hello Dan,
    I hope you are out of isolation.

    When agents communicate with clients during the Covid situation they might consider including helpful links to news items such as the Yahoo news link below… especially if sending your own local newsletters.

    Recent immigrants might not be familiar with how refrigeration operation works in their new country here in Canada, and how important it is to keep the refrigerator spotlessly clean. Caring for and storing foods might be different than it was back home, regardless of where back home was. It is a topic worth checking out carefully, regardless of where you live.

    This article in Yahoo news today is a good example. Being in the midst of hot temperatures here in Canada and then in lockdown or isolation, maybe indulging in cool refreshing watermelon or other fruits and vegetables it is important to consider handling, freshness, and cleanliness.

    Compliments of: © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience


    You don’t need a Kindle to read my 2019 Ebook cookbook. Scroll down to the Kindle Ebook in the REM newspaper recipe list or look here (there are many healthy hints in the free “look inside” tab at the cookbook cover graphic):


    Carolyne Lederer-Ralston


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