Being similar in communication stylewhether nonverbal, oral, or in writingis known as matching. Being different is mismatching. Matching helps establish and maintain rapport. Mismatching typically breaks rapport and disrupts the communication process.
When we communicate by telephone, for example, we will be more effective if we pay close attention to and match the other individuals voice tone and rate of speech. In written communication, we pace our readers by following the accepted standards for business correspondence, including standard formats for business documents and standard spelling, grammar, and mechanics.
In face-to-face situations, a change of posture or change in the rate or volume of speech, will often help lead another person in a new direction. In verbal communication, leading is a form of transition that connects one idea to another. Most people will follow more comfortably if the transition is gentle rather than abrupt:
While some people are comfortable with a straight-forward mismatch, most are not. In general, you will be more successful if you move your reader or listener from his or her current position to a new position more gently and carefully. Doing so often requires that you understand the reasons the other person has his or her current point of view and what he or she really wants. When you fully understand what the other person wants, he or she is much more likely to follow your lead.
In face-to-face communication and on the telephone, you can usually discover what others really want by asking some form of the question, What will that do for you? You also, of course, need a clear idea of what you want from the communication and the ways in which you and the other person can benefit each other.
Note that motivation depends on something within the reader. It isnt something that you do to your reader, but rather something you create in your reader. When your readers have a choice (virtually all the time), attempts to take that choice away will backfire. It is your job to ensure that the choice you want them to take is their most attractive option.
Not this:   You must complete your application today.
Say this:   By completing your application today, you will receive a 20 percent discount.
In some cases, you will want to motivate your reader to have renewed confidence in one of your products or services (resale) or to purchase a new product or service (new sales). In other cases, you may simply wish to motivate your reader to think well of your company. The fundamental assumption of the closing for virtually all business communication is that the relationship between reader and writer (or any sender and receiver) will continue, and that it will be positive and successful.
Future-pacing is a way of pacing future behavior to encourage the other person to follow through in keeping agreements, to test to see if he or she may still have some concerns about what you have proposed, and to ensure that the agreed-upon outcome is one that will serve both your needs.
These elements apply whether the communication is positive, negative, or persuasive. The specifics of how they are accomplished may vary, but the strategy remains the same. For a summary of how these steps apply in written, telephone, and face-to-face situations, see The Communication Strategy Summary.
Beginnings to avoid include the following:
Virtually any message that begins with I, my company, we, our company, or the company name violates the spirit of the you-attitude and should be changed to a you-oriented sentence.
Endings to avoid include the following:
As a rule, endings should be positive and forward-looking and should clarify who will do what next.