I vs you

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by christa, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It's hard to understand how you can speak so kindly of them when they treat people so badly. Everyone can be forgiven for their mistakes, but only up to a point.
    Well telling someone about their faults is a very delicate thing to do and denial is one of the reactions you're likely to get. Entrepreneurs have to have very high opinions of themselves or they won't last two months in their business. So your experience is understandable. There's no formula for how to tell someone they're screwing up.
    Again, those two statements seem so diametrically contradictory that I'm having trouble understanding how you could put them together in the same utterance. To "mean well" usually is equivalent to "caring about others or their mission." If she doesn't care how her people feel about her, their jobs and her company, then she doesn't mean well.
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  3. Pete It's not rocket surgery Registered Senior Member

    Like this, right?

    When I am a passenger and you are driving, I feel scared that we will crash and die.
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  5. christa Frankly, I don't give a dam! Valued Senior Member

    I feel scared when you are driving. I fell like when you are swerving in and out of traffic, and speeding around like you don't care about the safety of the family. I think that if you don't care about our safety then I should just drive..
    Or something along thos lines...

    Well this lady has decent business sense. But other then that, shes clueless. But I think that a person can be able to run a good business all the while being clueless about how crappy everyone feels about working there. Lack of common sense.. A high turnover is related to the fact she expects 5 star work, for illegal immigrant pay.
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Obviously you can't completely remove the word "you" from one of these "I" statements or you won't be able to make the point that it is, ultimately, the other person's behavior that is the cause of your feelings. Nonetheless, there are elements in these sentences that are extremely critical of the other person. They will cause him to become defensive, and when his defenses are up he's not listening to you; in that condition there is zero chance that he can be enlisted in the effort to solve the problem.

    You say twice that he doesn't care about the safety of the people in the car, and you even identify yourself as one of those people. This is confrontational, and "I" statements are supposed to avoid confrontation in order to inspire collaboration.

    Try to make them about you rather than about him. "I don't like the feeling of going fast and swerving in and out of traffic. It feels dangerous to me. I am very safety-conscious so a road trip that makes me feel at risk is extremely unpleasant. Frankly I make a habit of not riding with people who drive that way; even if it's a little inconvenient I would rather drive by myself. That way I'll be in a good mood when I arrive, not pumped full of adrenaline, not with my back sore from not being able to relax into my seat, and not with my fists cramped from gripping the sissy handles for dear life as if I were careening across the Andes in a bus built in 1937." Yes, stuff like this is easier to write when it's about somebody else's life and I'm sitting here in my safe, comfortable office drinking tea, but the point is well taken that injecting even a little bit of humor into something is a great way to break the ice and lower the confrontation level from "full combat" to "can we make this work with just a little compromise?"

    Notice also that, from my vantage here far away from the argument and being able to take as long as I want to craft these sentences, I have almost completely eliminated the accusatory tone. The speaker makes it clear that she feels uncomfortable being inside this car, without overtly accusing the driver of being a risk-taker. My mother was the worst passenger in America; she never learned to drive, had terrible vision, and believed that going over 35mph while another car was a mere 50 feet away was a guarantee of having a wreck, even though my father never had an auto accident in all the years I knew him. There are always three sides to every story: your side, the other guy's side, and what really happened.

    I drive fast and I change lanes to get around people who are impeding traffic, but my wife, who has as strong a sense of survival as any American woman, finds my driving unremarkable. She knows that I used to race motorcycles and have a better intuitive sense of kinematics than the average person--and in the 35 years she's known me I've never crashed into another vehicle. When a passenger tells me they just don't like the g-forces on their body from acceleration and lane changes, without accusing me of being a menace to highway safety, I'll slow down. But to tell me I don't care about their safety would be an insult.
    As I noted earlier, this kind of "business sense" will only lead to "business success" in a bountiful economy. Today, in the worst downturn since the Great Depression, businesses are failing right and left.

    We learned in the 19th century that in the Industrial Era, workers have to have a sense of initiative and responsibility for an enterprise to succeed. It was that, more than morality or politics, that brought about the demise of slavery. In fact everywhere else in the Western Hemisphere slavery disappeared by sheer economic attrition within a couple of decades, with no need for civil war. (Except in Haiti, hardly a role model.) People who don't feel like they're part of the business simply don't produce.

    Some employers treat their illegal immigrants like slaves, and they will be the first to go bankrupt in this little "temporary economic adjustment." Nonetheless, the concept of "five star work for illegal immigrant pay" is not totally invalid. On the one hand, compensation includes more than money, and people will make a considerable sacrifice in salary in order to simply be allowed to live here. On the other hand, many immigrants come from societies with a much different "work ethic" than ours, and they want their employer's business to thrive so they can keep their jobs. This may motivate them to work a little harder than people who can get an unemployment check, qualify for welfare benefits, or sponge off their parents if they lose their jobs.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010

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