The importance of starting with the “why”

Good communicators know the importance of “starting with the why.”

Whether you’re telling customers about a price increase, employees about changes in company policy, or encouraging people to get a flu shot, leading with the “why” helps everyone understand the purpose of your message right up front.

Here’s an example:

Because we are uncertain of the health risks associated with the use of electronic cigarettes, these devices have been banned at all facilities.

 The usefulness of this technique was recently made clear to me by my 11-year-old son, in what I now regard as the best example of “starting with the why” that I have seen.

Following a fight with his younger brother, my son left this note taped to his bedroom door:

Dear family,

Because you are so mean and hate me, I will live on my own.

Good bye,

P.S. Look in the back yard.

And while I don’t mean to make light of the intent of the note or the feelings behind it, his note was short, to the point, and stated his reasoning up front. This is what we want for all the messages that we communicate.

I now keep my son’s note in front of me when I write, as a reminder to always lead with the “why,” and to check the back yard the next time my son decides to flee the tyranny of our household.

PR Daily readers, care to share any of your great examples of “starting with the why”?

This article was first published on Ragan Communications PR Daily.

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