The nature of the identification with self and other

A magazine editor once gave me brilliant writing advice. 

She said to be careful not to overuse the second person point of view in the work. It creates a separation between author and reader, and can appear preachy or bossy. Instead, try to write in terms of we and us. It unifies the reader and writer, becoming a journey that we’re on together, rather than an expedition that only you are qualified to lead. 

Forget about writing, that’s just good advice period. It’s a gentle reminder that when we change our pronouns, transitioning from me into we, the context of where we sit in the world is dramatically enhanced. 

Berkeley conducted a famous study on this very issue. They took about two hundred married couples, half married for fifteen years, half married for thirty. And one of the most important variables studied and reported in the research were the numbers of times couples used words such as we, our, us, as opposed to words like, I, me, you.  

Sure enough, analyses revealed that greater weness was associated with a number of desirable qualities of the interaction, i.e., lower cardiovascular arousal, more positive and less negative emotional behavior; whereas, greater separateness was associated with a less desirable profile, i.e., more negative emotional behavior and lower marital satisfaction. 

When we change our language, we change our life. 

Even our most innocuous parts of everyday speech are unconscious representations of the nature of the identification with self and other. 

If we want a window into the inner workings of intimate relationships, the qualities of the connections between us and our partners, let us look at the language. 


Are you on a journey of exploration together, or an expedition that only you are qualified to lead?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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