Isn’t it remarkable how a single letter can make so much difference! (Thanks John for pointing this out.) The apparent randomness of that single letter, either an ‘I’ or a ‘u’, can provide a valuable insight into the nature of human influence.
In general as human beings, who are we most interested in? Of course it is ourselves. So if we want to positively influence someone, who do we need to show an interest in and to talk about? Clearly it is them. And yet so much business communication revolves around “me” and “I”, rather than “you”.
For example, how many presentations have you heard that begin along the lines of “I want to tell you about …”? And yet a simple change of focus from ‘I’ to ‘You’ can have a profound effect. When folks are learning to present, a good exercise is to try to remove the word “I” altogether. The results can be phenomenal. So instead of “I want to tell you …” we might get something like “You have expressed an interest in …” Not only does this provide a greater quality of recognition and motivation (most constructive!), it also forces the speaker to genuinely consider the interests and concerns of the listener, (also highly constructive!)
None of this is to say that the effective leader does not reveal her own ideas, wants and beliefs. Far from it. The issue is rather that most of us habitually and when under pressure focus on “I”. Ultimately the effect on others is to constrict.
To focus on the “you” and to put ourselves in other folks’ shoes requires continual effort and practice. It rarely happens automatically, especially when leaders are under pressure and are feeling stressed. And yet this is when it is most required. A “you” focus demands preparation and mental poise.
As somebody put it, this may be simple, but it is certainly not easy.