What do your pronouns mean?

No, I’m not wading into The Pronoun Wars. (Scrap ‘em all. More than half of the world’s langauges don’t have gender markers anyway.) This is something else…

Next time you’re having a conversation, notice what pronouns you’re using and think about what that might mean about your state of mind.

Here are some suggestions:

Saying ‘I’ a lot

Is this really all about you? Are you self-obsessed or self-reflective? Maybe stop in a second and ask the other person, ‘How about you? What do you think?’

Saying ‘You’ a lot

Are you arguing or accusing? Can you flip this around? ‘I feel such-and-such when whatever-happens.’

Saying ‘He/She/They’ a lot

Are you bitching about someone? Would you say this to their face? How would they respond if you did? Speak for them and add their defence to the conversation.

Saying ‘They’ a lot

Are you blaming an ill-defined other? ‘Experts’, ‘Tories’, ‘Gardeners With Fucking Leafblowers’. Can you be more specific? Can you take responsibility instead?

Using personal names a lot

Are you using personal names to respect or censure? Does it feel intimate or impersonal?

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at davidcharles.info.

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