There is a disease in this world that almost no one seems to recognize. A disease that creates disharmony, stress and confusion. Most of us are guilty of spreading this disease, and it has become so common that most people don’t even notice it. In fact, some people will negate that there is a problem.
Trust me, there is a problem. Perhaps you don’t see it, but I do, and it is driving me crazy.
Please Stop Saying “You” When you Mean “I”
Mine is a simple request. Stop saying “you’ when you mean “I”. It shouldn’t be that hard, right?
Sadly, it is.
This issue isn’t found in the English language only. I have seen people do it in Spanish and Italian as well. If I spoke more languages, it is likely I would recognize it in other cultures as well.
So what is the big deal? Why am I being so picky with the way you speak?
Because it is disempowering, it disempowers me and it disempowers you. Plus, it forces me to be constantly translating your sentences to understand the true meaning of your speech, instead of simply receiving it as a clear and precise message.
When Do People Make This Mistake
I am sure you have been in a conversation before, talking to your friends, family members, or even someone you just met. You are engaged in the dialogue and it seems like there is nothing wrong, but underneath the surface there is a disease that is eating your power and the power of the speaker.
Let me give you an example: “You know when you are at the gym, doing your thing, bench pressing 400 pounds, when all of a sudden some old lady comes talk to you about his grandma used to sell wine…”
No, of course you don’t, because that never happened to you. Maybe it happened to me, and I am angry about it because it distracted me from my workout, it made me feel awkward and it was annoying….
So why am I saying “you” when I should be saying “I”. Why am I using third person when I should be using first. I clearly know the difference between you and I. We all do, we all learned this when we were very young. However, I constantly see adults making this mistake every day in all types of situations.
I will give you a better example:
I was triggered to write this article because I saw a video about a guy who spent six hours trying to land a back-flip. The 4 minute video shows short takes throughout that period, showing his many failures until he finally succeeds. At the end, he speaks to the audience and says: “I learned something from this: Your mind is the only thing that is stopping you from doing whatever you want to do.”
What is The Issue With This?
First of all, this is not proper speech. This guy didn’t learn that “Your mind is the only thing that is stopping you from doing whatever you want to do.” At best, he may have learned that HIS mind is the only thing that is stopping HIM from doing whatever HE wants to do.
The issue here is that, again, he is disempowering himself and the viewer. First of all, he is no giving him the credit he deserves from his discovery. He is avoiding the responsibility of his own discovery and instead putting that responsibility into the audience.
On the other side, I, the audience, suddenly find myself feeling the pressure of this guys supposed discovery being put on me. Now, in my subconscious, there is a foreign idea that says that my mind is the only thing that is stopping me from doing whatever I want to do.
What if I don’t find this to be true? Why if I love the limitations my mind sets in my life. Maybe I don’t want to spend 6 hours of my day working on a back-flip. Maybe I don’t want to jump of a plane…
I hope you can see where this is going. It is subtle but the implications are huge.
Why Do People Make this Mistake?
I believe that we make this mistake because we are partially disconnected with ourselves. Many of us tend to avoid personal responsibility, we avoid expressing our thoughts and emotions and instead use the word “you” to step aside and let the other take on whichever energy we are running away from.
We also make this mistake because almost no one is pointing at it. We don’t have our English teacher taking points of every time we make this mistake, but the points are being taken off by life itself.
The only reason why I am able to see this is because speaking from “I” was one of the core rules we had in massage school. Massage work is extremely personal and there are countless of exchanges that happened between the giver and the receiver. The last thing we want to do is confuse them with ourselves and vice versa.
I feel blessed and grateful for having learned this simple, yet powerful lesson. Since then, I have continued to be more and more careful with my speech. I still make this mistake, but I often correct myself and whenever I do, I feel glad that I have enough awareness and humility to admit my mistake, restate my sentence using the proper subject and take responsibility for whatever is happening with me.
I invite you to do the same. First by noticing how you speak, and then by noticing others. I hope that soon you will learn to correct yourself and in time, you might gain the tact and ability to correct others with compassion and humility, not by forcing this view but simply asking for clarity and respect.
I almost made the title of this blog “Why You Should Stop Saying You” and I quickly notice how ironic that would have been. So I went ahead and corrected myself by kindly asking you to look into this. It is possible that I may have made other mistakes while writing this or any of my articles. You are welcome and invited to point them out. The purpose of this article is not to show you how much better I am, but instead, to help us all improve our communication so we can have more harmony in our lives.
- Bruno Treves