How to avoid verbal finger pointing

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Improper use of the word “you” is verbal finger pointing. Consider this statement: “You are wrong about this new marketing campaign!” A statement like this puts people on the defensive. They also take the statement personally and may feel attacked. Most people don’t enjoy confrontations and when the word “you” is blurted out, the person feels as though you just poked a finger in her eye. An altogether different feeling would result if the statement were rephrased in this way: “I have a few concerns about this new marketing campaign.” You’ve put the emphasis on yourself without putting the other person on the defensive. Now it doesn’t sound like an attack and there is a much better chance that real dialog will take place without all the fireworks. Here are a few more examples:

“You need to take care of this right away.”   Or   “I think this needs to be taken care of right away.”

“You made a lot of mistakes in the presentation.”  Or  “I think the presentation needs a lot of improvements.”

“You’ve got a lot of problems in your department.”  Or  “I think there are a lot of problems that need to be addressed.”

“When are you going to learn to take responsibility for yourself?’ Or “How can I help your with your responsibilities?”

The next time a conversation ensues with someone, remember the “I” versus “you” principle. It’s an easy fix and your conversations will be far more productive. You should never verbally point your finger… er, I mean, verbal finger pointing should be avoided in all conversations.


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