Make sure people are tuning in to you
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Either listening to or reading about someone telling you all the things they want, need, think, do. ‘Well, I went here and I said that and then I did this and then I said that. Well, I mean, who do they think I am? I said”.
Now as you read that back and notice that, in reality, whilst a fairly strident bit of dialogue, it’s entirely possible to hear that every day. 7 times the word ‘I’ appears – and not once the word ‘we’, ‘you’, ‘us’, ‘our’.
Speaking like this is one thing. Dull. You can still pick up the ‘I’s clearly enough, but writing it like this is something else entirely. In written form, they’re so easy to spot as we scan through a message – email, letter, report, article and too many ‘I, I, I’ just switches people off. We all want to know where we fit in, how it affects us, what’s in it for us.
WIIFM – What’s In It For Me? It’s been called something along the lines of ‘the radio show everyone’s listening to.’
So, be careful with the word I. ‘I this, I that, I do, I want’ and particularly when it’s in writing. You can scan your own emails and pick them up and rest assured, people reading it will.
Notice it. Here’s the rub: In general, people don’t care so much about what we think, want and need as much as they care about what they think, want and need. Tough for some of us to hear I know, but, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we know people really care about what they think, want and need. They are always – as we are – filtering it through ‘WIIFM?’ So make it more about them and less about you. You’re still in there but it doesn’t have to be all “me, I, my”. You’re far more engaging and compelling to other people if you make it more about them.
So when do you use ‘I’?
How I find it works is to make the story, issue etc., personal with ‘I’ and then relate it to ‘we’ so it becomes, for example
“I’m so thrilled I’m invited to X’s meeting too. You know it’s going to be good and we’ll learn something about what’s going on. I’ll make sure the team knows the headlines as soon as I get back”. Notice how it’s become less about ‘I’ and more about ‘us’ and ‘them’.
‘We’, ‘our’, ‘us’ is inclusive language. It gives the listener/reader the sense that we’re in this together, that they’re included. ‘We did’, ‘we know’, ‘as a company we’re striving to’, versus ‘I’, ‘I’m’, ‘me’, ‘mine’ and ‘my’ – for the listener/reader it becomes so, well, dull.
‘There’s no I in team – but there’s me, if you look hard enough’. A cute play on the words and a trick I know.
You are in there, you’re part of the team – whatever your team happens to be, professional, family, sports, friends but it’s not all about you, is it? Or it it?
About the Author
Kay White is our Show Up & Sparkle blogger. Known as the Savvy & Influential Communication Expert for Women in Business and author of The A to Z of Being Understood, Kay shows professional women how to be seen, heard and valued at work all while being true to themselves.
You can connect and find out more from Kay at: www.wayforwardsolutions.com and pick up your 2 Free Savvy & Influential Gifts:
- The Power List (over 1200 influential words and phrases to use in your messaging) and
- How To Say No (assertive boundaries are key to being successful in your career).
OR you can hear Kay sharing more on her Podcast on iTunes here. Straight from the horses mouth!