Use Your Readers Names

Referring to your readers by name is one of the easiest ways to increase your Empathy Index. You need to be careful, however, because overuse of someone's name can sound like an affectation, as if you're a phony or obsequious.

In the discussion later in this chapter regarding salutations, you'll learn that using someone's name at the start of your communication is almost always a good idea (e.g., Dear George, or Dear Dr. Janson). You might also consider closing with a reference to your reader or readers (e.g., "Thanks again, Matthew, for your assistance.").

Be cautious, however, about using references in the body of a letter or other communication. Adding references risks conveying an overly familiar, even servile attitude.

Don't be discouraged from referring to people by name; just be certain the tone is appropriate. One way to do this is to read the text aloud, pretending that you are having a conversation with your reader. If it sounds natural in conversation, probably it's appropriate in writing.

Using a category that refers to your readers, such as a job title, can be a viable alternative to naming someone. This approach is effective when it's impractical to write to individuals because there are too many of them. For example, in a newsletter article or a press release, the text needs to reach a broad audience. Saying "Employees with more than five years' service need to update their forms" is an example of referring to a specific segment of the population, in this case, all employees with more than five years' service.

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