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Pronoun Use - "You"
“You-attitude,” a phrase used by Kitty O. Locker in Business and Administrative Communication, refers to a style of writing that puts readers’ needs first. Specifically, you-attitude “emphasiz[es] what the reader wants to know, respecting the reader’s intelligence, and protecting the reader’s ego” (Locker 36). Locker details five strategies for achieving you-attitude in your writing:
1. Talk about the reader, not about yourself.
Without you-attitude: We at the Meijer Center for Writing believe our services can help students become better writers.
You-attitude: You’ll improve as a writer by working with a trained peer consultant at the Meijer Center for Writing.
2. Refer to the reader’s request or order specifically.
Without you-attitude: Your order has arrived.
You-attitude: Your tables and chairs (invoice #42250) have arrived.
3. Don’t talk about feelings, except to congratulate or offer sympathy. In most professional settings and situations, your feelings are irrelevant.
Without you-attitude: We are pleased to offer students writing consultations on Sunday evenings.
You-attitude: You can now visit the Meijer Center for Writing on Sunday evenings, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
You-attitude: Congratulations on your promotion to Assistant Manager! I was pleased to read about it in the company newsletter.
4. Use you more often than I in positive situations. Doing so accentuates the good news associated with the reader.
Without you-attitude: I will make every effort to ensure you get an appointment.
You-attitude: You will be notified of your appointment time within 24 hours.
5. Avoid the word you in delivering bad news, as it can be interpreted as accusatory and over-accentuate the negative.
Without you-attitude: Because you did not proofread your paper, you will earn an F.
You-attitude: A number of proofreading errors have been made in the paper.
You-attitude: The paper includes a number of proofreading errors.
Note: One strategy for avoiding you in negative situations is to use passive verbs; another strategy is to place emphasis on things, not people.
For more information about you-attitude, see the following text, which is available in the Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors, LOH 120:
Locker, Kitty O. Business and Administrative Communication. 7 th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
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