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Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Power Of "You" In Interpersonal Communication

Recently, in opening up my FaceBook to include a larger scope of "friends" (outside my own family members), I have noticed some who fail to understand the interpersonal communication dynamics involved in use of the word, "you". The use of this word, directed at another, has the effect of diverting the communication from the subject matter and making it a personal assessment of another's character, motives, emotions, or whatever the "you' perceives the person is saying. At this point, all communication is shut down and offenses arise. In any case, "you", directed at another, should be avoided in a public forum, at all costs. "You" has the power to cause offense and is readily interpreted as a personal judgement from the user. It can also cause public embarrassment and humiliation. The FaceBook user should remember that the FaceBook timeline is not a private chat room. If a more personal communication is needed the Message Tab should be used to privately talk to another. But, even in private communication, one should be aware of the negative dynamics involved in the use of "you".

From Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. in Communication Success

1. “You” language plus directives

Ineffective communication is often characterized by the use of certain types of “you” language, such as “you are...,” “you should...,” “you need to...,” “you have to...,” “you’d better...,” and “you people...”. Directives are statements that either pass negative judgment, or order another person around. Some examples of “you” language plus a directive include:

“You are not good enough...”
“You should pay attention...”
“You need to do this now...”
“You have to understand my position...”
"You better get it right...”
“You people should behave...”


Most people don’t like being judged or told what to do, and when we use “you” language plus directives, it’s easy to arouse in others feelings of resentment and defensiveness. This type of communication is also problematic in that it tends to invite a “no” response, resulting in disagreements and conflicts.

I have recently had the word "you" directed toward me. In the course of discussions, I have heard, "You are too tense" and "You are nitpicking". The first temptation that arises from one so singled out is to defend themselves against such accusations. But, to do so would be pride and a sin. "You" has the power to tempt someone to sin, and defeats our responsibility to "as much as is possible be at peace with all men." Apostle James tells us, " The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body."

We are to guard our hearts and our mouths, especially in interpersonal communication with a fellow believer. Knowing that  "you" has the power to burn another, is a good start.

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