I want to let you know that I’ve really got my act together as a Christian speaker. I know what to do and when to do it. Not only that, but I’ve decided it’s my job to tell YOU what to do and when to do it, too! You are so blessed to have me in your life to keep you straight.
Okay, let’s be honest here. Does that introduction compel you to listen to my words and follow my suggestions? Probably not. I would dare say most of us would answer with something akin to, “Who died and made her queen?”
The good news is, most of us would never speak or write those words. The bad news is, that’s still the message that can come across if we’re not careful.
Much of it can be blamed on a simple, little part of speech: the pronoun, “you.”
Through the years, I’ve spoken to thousands, primarily women, in an effort to share my experiences and teach something of worth. Whether the presentation is a funny piece about beauty or an in-depth study of scripture, the goal is to teach, encourage, and challenge the listener. After all, as speakers, we have the experience and preparation to share what we know and help others along the way.
But sometimes you gets in the way.
When we speak, especially when we’re trying to teach something to the audience, it’s easy to get in the habit of using phrases like, “you should,” “you must,” and “you need to.” Yes, they probably should, must, and need to do whatever it is you’re trying to teach, but the tone of the presentation works best with a we’re-in-this-together voice of inclusivity and camaraderie.
For example, “Ladies, we must pray earnestly and daily for a gentle and quiet spirit” works much better than “Ladies, you must pray earnestly and daily for a gentle and quiet spirit.” See the difference? In the first example, it sounds like “we” is a group of women struggling together toward the same goal. In the second, it sounds like the speaker is pointing fingers and telling the listeners they are woefully missing the mark. (Unlike the speaker, who has her act together, of course!)
“It’s our jobs as parents…” “64 percent of us are overweight…” and “We focus too much on what we want…” sound so much better than “It’s your job as parents,” “64 percent of you are overweight,” and “You focus too much on what you want.”
In each case, the truth is the same: All of us have changes that need to be made. But chances are, the listener is more likely to accept our teaching if she doesn’t feel that we’re telling her what to do.
It’s all in the delivery.
Don’t let “you” get in the way.
The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:21
Grace and peace,
(Free photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)