My clients hire me to write copy that works.

And 99.9% of the time I’m able to deliver the words that sell, educate, persuade, clarify, advocate, and/or inform.

But sometimes actions speak louder than words.

I recently pitched my copywriting and editing services to a well-known nonprofit—one that I have been connected to since college and have always held in high esteem.

After countless hours preparing, pitching, and following up—which I always happily chalk up to the cost of doing business—I was left deeply disappointed. My impression of that organization is forever changed.

This experience led me to think about how emotion impacts action.

Take, for example, the local body shop that promised my Jeep would be restored to “pre-collision condition.” When I picked it up, it was anything but. Today, their direct mailers land directly in my recycling bin. Their commercials are met with an eye roll or a flip of the remote. And I will never refer them. In fact, I tell people to steer clear.

Consider the hospital that treated my father during his battle with cancer. We never received an acknowledgement of his passing from his team of doctors. But within days of his funeral we were asked to make a sizeable contribution to the hospital’s capital campaign.

I could go on and on…and I bet you could, too!

Now the nonprofit, the body shop, and the hospital all have messaging that, on the surface, is on point.

But all it takes to chip away at carefully constructed copy is a series of seemingly innocuous events, “death by paper cuts” if you will—an unhelpful voice on the other end of the phone or an email, an overlooked opportunity to express appreciation, or an indifference to sub-standard work.

So the next time the words don’t work for you, consider those of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”