Tip for Writing More Professional Notes: Take out the Pronouns

28Sep12

Take out the pronouns! It’s a rule of thumb I’m going by these days, and most especially, with the messages I write to professional contacts.

Eliminate these Pronouns in Professional Notes! Image courtesy of shewrites.com

I produce marketing materials, events, and host/perform on contract for various organizations, meaning, my emails are often about negotiating creative decisions and administrating needs/expectations. As a contractor to an organization, what I produce must live up to their vision/identity, and also, as I was hired because they trust and respect my professional opinions and experience, I must add value to their decisions. Thus, to manage the working process, I’ve been playing with this “Rule of No Pronouns” to create a dialogue that’s factual, open-ended, and positively goal-oriented.

Example 1: While my input on the event and what I will perform is asked for, to tell the contractor what “they” need to do is a final decision to which they are entitled. Taking out the pronoun defers that responsibility while providing my input still.

“I don’t feel like you need to include Snow White in the title/description of the Story Time.”

“I don’t feel like the title/description of the Story Time needs to include Snow White.”

Born from the communication tactic of handling potentially emotional- and relation-rocky subjects with using “I” statements: framing conversations in terms of how “I feel…I think…I would like…” instead of using blaming- or judgmental-sounding “you” statements, the thought was that: by completely mitigating any “you,” “me,” “I,” “we” – whatever subject pronoun! – each party would feel free from any relational obligation or responsibility to the other to instead focus on the subject or business at hand.

Example 2: Does any additional value come from claiming “I” did this other than asking that “I” am recognized? What if, upon revision, it ends up I’ve done it wrong? Because then I have to accept that responsibility…
Better leave out the pronoun (and my ego) to focus on the work objective.

“The coupon codes I’ve set to launch Monday, 10/1, are:”

“The coupon codes set to launch Monday, 10/1, are:”

Of course, this rule is like most: a guideline. It’s also a practice in conscientious living and relationship management. Says Sakyong Mipham (via Shambala Sun), “Self-reflection is how we can transform society.” If we can be aware of ourselves and motivations in our work and relationships, we can act with integrity upon them with others.

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