Generalising your way out of personal responsibility

How often I hear people say something along these lines: “you can’t say ‘no’ to clients” or “you just have to put up with so-and-so”.

In both examples the issue being described has been depersonalised and generalised by the use of the word ‘you’. In what amounts to a linguistic slight of hand that for the most part seems to go largely unnoticed, the tactic removes the person from being a partial owner of (or contributor to) the problem and thus they cannot be held responsible for addressing it. And why do this? Certainly they feel better, let off the hook, with the problem pushed onto the shoulders of others.

It’s perfectly amazing how asking them to repeat what they’ve just said, only substituting “I” or “me” in place of “you” can start to bring an awareness and insight that creates the possibility for real change.

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