–When you’ve attended a seminar have you ever noticed that most speakers begin by saying words like “Today I want to talk to about…”
—When you’ve attended a meeting have you ever noticed that the leader or chairperson starts out saying words like “First, I want to review the agenda.”
—When you receive written communication have you ever noticed that the majority of the time the first words you read are “I am writing to express interest in…”
What each of these examples has in common is that the majority of people will communicate verbally and in writing with an inordinate focus on using the pronoun “I.“ You may be wondering why this is problematic especially if it’s so common. Although it’s certainly not grammatically incorrect, the real dilemma is that it clearly presents the message as being about you rather than your customer, employee, vendor, audience, etc.
As a communication & speech specialist, one of the first points I address with my clients is that the most effective way to get your message across is to always make it about the other person vs. yourself. How is this accomplished, you ask? The answer is by working on changing your I/You ratio, which means using the words “you” and “your” far more than you use the word “I.”
Every time we interact with other people, they’re thinking to themselves…“What’s in it for me?” or “How does this affect me?” We all know far too well that average attention spans are not only short but also getting shorter! Add to that how bombarded we are on a daily basis with competing messages (tweets, texts, e-mails, phone calls, meetings, etc.) and it makes you wonder how we actually get through to any one!
The good news is that once you modify your language to use “You” more than “I” you stand a far greater chance of engaging others and holding their interest. What you really end up conveying is “This is all about you.” For many people that’s quite refreshing.
With this in mind, why not take a look at your next e-mail and see if you can spot ways to reduce your use of “I” and increase your use of “You.” Once you’ve done that I recommend that you start applying it to your spoken message and try it in your professional and personal life so it becomes a habit.
You’ll see the payoff from doing the math!