(This is part 6 of the “Selfie” series. Read part 5 here.)
A few years ago my brother-in-law brought something to my attention about how sports celebrities seem to always speak with the second-person pronoun when referring to themselves.
Who’s This “You” You Speak Of?
Interviewer: “Were you nervous getting back out on the field since coming back from your injury?”
Sports celebrity: “You have to have confidence when you go back onto the field and experience your first full-contact action. Whatever happens happens. You just have to be ready to do what you’re supposed to do, knowing that you have what it takes to do your job. You’ve worked hard to come back, and even if you’re nervous you have to get out there and push past it.”
Umm…OK. I hear it all the time. Rather than referring to themselves with the first-person pronoun “I” they often refer to themselves with the second-person “you”. And until recently I laughed at them; but now I think they might be onto something.
The Power of “You”
Here’s why: a study from the University of Michigan shows that when it comes to self-talk, those who routinely challenge themselves by name (or with the second-person pronoun “you”) out-perform those who stick with “I”.
The results were consistent: People whose self-talk used their names or “you” reported less shame and ruminated less than the ones who used “I.” The judges found the performances of those using “you” to be more confident, less nervous and more persuasive. When people think of themselves as another person, “it allows them to give themselves objective, helpful feedback,” says Ethan Kross, associate professor of psychology and director of the Self-Control and Emotion Laboratory at the University of Michigan.
In other words, when talking to yourself, use fewer “I” statements and more “You” or “Tom” statements. You will hear a kinder voice and you will more easily rise to the challenge. Don’t say, “I can’t believe what a procrastinator I am. I always wait until the last minute to write my blog.” Instead say, “You can do this. You have what it takes, Tom. You can buckle down and get this done in advance. Yes you can.”
I might try that. You might try that. Tom might try that, too.