October 25, 2015
It's Not "You," it's "Me." Seriously. Please.
This is how it starts:
"How was your trip to Mars?"
"Well, you know, at first you feel a little out of sorts, but by the third day you never want to leave."
No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
It's about YOU. Not "you."
Try that again, and tell me about YOUR experience.
"Yeah, Mars! At first I felt a little out of sorts, but by the third day I never wanted to leave."
See what I did there?
It's subtle. But really not. "You" speaks to a universal experience. But your experience isn't universal. (Have you really asked *everyone* who's been to Mars what their experience was like? Do you expect everyone's experience to match yours?) So when someone asks you a question, speak from your experience. And acknowledge it--nay, EMBRACE it!--as yours, and yours alone! Sure, okay, if you shared it with someone and you know they felt the same way about it, throw that in. Use "we." But almost never "you."
Here's an example of why.
(Turns out I've been to Mars too! I was just curious what you thought of your experience, not what I might expect from one.)
You: I found that by the third day I was really into it, and just enjoyed being there.
Me: Yeah, me too! I was there in '97...
You: By the third day you're really into it and just enjoy being there.
Me: I know. (Dummy. You're not the only one who's been to Mars.)
I didn't need you to impart your universal knowledge (which, like I said, you very likely don't have). I was just, like, asking for your opinion, man.
And if you do feel that you have a perspective broader than your own to add, bring it, with an acknowledgement:
"By the third day I loved it. And everyone I talked to said the same. We were all especially into the color red."
So, get out there. Go to Mars. Shop at the new store in town. Make peanut-shaped doilies out of fishing line. Just don't speak like you're the *only* one who has done it (everybody's making peanut-shaped doilies out of fishing line these days), or like your experience is the only one to be had. Even if it's something unique--especially if it's something unique--own it as your truth. Use "I" and "me." Take responsibility for it. Give your audience a chance to share their experience too. I dare ya!
[Enter cool explanatory cartoon here. Does anyone have one? It would be great if it had to do with Mars and cats. I feel like there should be cats involved.]