Actions speak louder than words, but certain words speak louder than most. To me, the loudest word in any language is the pronoun “I.” By studying its frequency of use and context we can learn about our self-confidence, emotions, and even social standing.
Since “I” write blogs about things that intrigue me, I wanted to share an interesting fact from a recent Psychology Today article “The I’s Have It,” by Andrea Bartz.
Women say “I” more than men.
According to the article, 14.2% of women’s words are personal pronouns compared to 12.7% for men. This is a huge difference, says James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the university of Texas at Austin. Pennebaker states that women are more self-reflective and self-aware, along with the fact that they are more apt to suffer from low self-esteem and social status.
It’s fab that we are “self-reflective,” but reducing the use of “I” takes focus off the self and makes for better business communication. Here are a couple steps you can take to reduce peppering the word with a heavy hand into your next correspondence (note, these are my personal suggestions, not a psychologist’s).
After you write an email, go back through and see if you can remove some of the personal pronouns.
You are writing your recipient an email, so why do you need to keep starting sentences with “I”? They know you already.
Stop saying and writing,“I think” so often.
When you make your suggestion to the world, people know you are thinking. Often, “I think” is used when one isn’t confident about their decision or as a way to fill some dead airtime. (I need work on this one).
Try not to use “I” so much in conversation.
People love to talk about themselves, so the best way to get chatter started is to ask questions about the other person instead of starting most sentences with, “I think…I feel like…I know that…”
Substitute “We” for “I”.
When you are sharing the views of a group, use “we.” It shows comradery and shifts focus from the self.
I think I found a new use for CMH bangles… counting how many times I use “I”.