Read the following pairs. Notice which ones make you more comfortable.
‘You’re in a queue/line and we will respond to you shortly’, vs. ‘You are number 7 and moving up the queue’
‘Plane delayed’ vs. ‘Plane delayed by 45 minutes’
No sign ( a queue/line) vs. ‘ From here it is 15 minutes’
Pages in a survey going on and on, vs. ‘You are halfway now, thanks for your patience’
‘We’ll get something to you asap’, vs. ‘We’ll get something to you no later than Tuesday’
‘Delay in this doctor’s waiting room, apologies ‘ vs. ‘The doctor will see you between 10 and 11’
‘Your breakdown recovery people have been informed’, vs. ‘Peter will be with you between 5 and 5:45 and has your cell phone number’
If you are like me or many other mortals, the second parts are incredibly more reassuring and comforting. Let’s assume for a second that both parts refer to the same identical situation. Only one, the second, brings uncertainty down.
Dealing with certainty is something we don’t always have the luxury to do, but, when we can, it takes very little effort to provide it. In all examples above, all data, the same data, was available underneath. The first sentence had high uncertainty (did not use the available data) whilst the second added that certainty bit, not made up, real.
Cheap solutions. We need to ask ourselves how much uncertainty we are providing to others and how much we can reduce it by very simple measures. The difference is a few words, but in impact terms, as much as night and day.