If you want to avoid a common – and may I say even grave – writing mistake, read on.
Here’s the issue that causes the mistake. The best writing makes a strong point to readers. But a strong point can come out sounding harsh. Lacking empathy. And so, you soften your point by using a weasel word: we.
For example: ‘When we don’t set goals, we become unhappy,’ you write. Or, ‘When we don’t challenge our teams, they become ineffective.’ Or, ‘When we don’t write our post using the 2nd person, we insult our readers.’
I know why you use the 1st-person pronouns (we). You want to sound inclusive. It doesn’t. Instead, it sounds patronising.
Instead, use the 2nd-person pronouns (you, yours, yourself). Your reader will respect you, and know that you respect them. If your message sounds too harsh, address that issue directly. For example:
‘It’s not often that new writers realise how patronising it sounds to use first-person pronouns like we, our and us. [Empathy] Let me assure you, it is a common mistake. [More empathy.] So, if you learn to address the reader confidently, using the 2nd-person pronoun (you), you will stand out from the crowd. [Encouraging].’
Next time you write a post, or a book chapter, do a “we/you” audit (as my friend John Englezos calls it). Get rid of the wee-we words.
Are there any words you would like to audit out of the English language? Chick? Karen?
PS: If you’ve been wondering whether you are ready to write a book, wonder no more… I have a short quiz that will give you insights into what it takes. Enjoy https://tinyurl.com/2uet4r94