You Viewpoint

Making the Best of the You-Viewpoint

The You-viewpoint will make you—sender of the message—better informed to use your understanding of the receiver’s knowledge to influence the ideas you include and the amount of explanation you give.

Moreover, you will be able to use words the receiver will understand and accept.

If you are sending the same message to a group of receivers and you want to achieve the business communication goals with every member of that group, each individual in the group must be analyzed as fully as possible.

Then, if the receivers are of equal importance to your goals, you must compose the message for the member(s) of the group with the least knowledge about, the least interest in, and the greatest emotional opposition to the subject.

For example, web pages can be accessed by literally millions of people around the world, but those who develop materials for the Web will define, analyze, and write for their target audience, not all Internet users.

You can construct your message to address the receiver’s concerns, needs, and motivations.

Determining your receiver’s attitudes will assist you in avoiding or carefully handling negative situations.

Finally, anticipating your receiver’s emotional reaction will influence whether you use a direct or an indirect approach in your message.

The I-Viewpoint

The opposite of the you-viewpointOpens in new window is the I-viewpoint, which includes the me-, my-, our-, and we-viewpoints.

The I-viewpoint also called I-attitude means the sender composes messages from his or her point of view instead of the receiver’s point of view.

Poor communicators use the I-viewpoint and choose message content based on their own knowledge, interests, attitudes, and emotional reaction.

Only rarely will an I-viewpoint message achieve the goals of business communication.

Examine these contrasting examples of sentences from opposite viewpoints:

I-ViewpointYou-Viewpoint
  • I think your report is excellent.
  • You simply do not understand what I am saying.
  • We offer three service plans.
  • You wrote an excellent report.
  • Perhaps an example will help make the instructions clearer.
  • Choose the service plan that best meets your needs.

As you might observe from these examples, using the you-viewpoint means more than changing a personal pronoun.

Rather than self-centered; it requires that the message be receiver-centered. It requires that you emphasize the receiver’s interests and benefits rather than your own.

What's this?

In written communication, apply the same tact that you would use if you were talking directly to the receiver.

When you talk with a person, body language Opens in new window helps project your meaning. When you write, you have only words to convey the meaning.

The reader must understand exactly what you intend because many business decisions depend entirely on the written word.

A misused or misunderstood word can confuse the reader and cost a business money. Thus, when you write or speak, avoid colloquialisms, jargon, and any words or phrases that might be offensive.

Replace I or we with you or your to establish your friendly intent as a writer.

In your message, emphasize the benefits to the reader. Consider the following examples:

    I/We Attitdue
  • We will prepare complimentary snacks for the office party.
  • You/Your Attitude
  • You will receive complimentary snacks at the office party.
    I/We Attitude
  • We will provide free event shirts for volunteers to wear at the race.
  • You/Your Attidue
  • All volunteers may wear free event shirts at the race.

Even requests for action and unfavorable responses may create goodwill when the emphasis is on the receiver’s benefits.

The following examples illustrate how an unpleasant message can be courteous and incorporate the you viewpoint (you attitude).

    I/We Attitude
  • We may not be able to offer you credit if your account is not paid in full by June 25.
  • You/Your Attitude
  • To continue purchasing on credit, please pay the balance by June 25.
    I/We Attitude
  • We require a $300 minimum balance in order for customers to receive free checks.
  • You/Your Attitude
  • When you maintain a $300 minimum balance, you receive free checks.
    I/We Attitude
  • After September 15, I will drop all students who have not signed and returned their Acceptable Use Form.
  • You/Your Attitude
  • Please protect your enrollment. Sign and return your Acceptable Use Form by September 15.

When you use the you-viewpoint, the receiver is apt to respond positively to both you and the content of your message. Although using the you-viewpoint may mean you sometimes write passively, the results are worth it.

The recommendation that you use the you-viewpoint in your messages does not suggest that you ignore basic values or compromise ethics.

Complimenting someone just so he or she will do what you want is manipulative and inappropriate. Sincerity and honesty are basic to all successful business communication.

At this point in is helpful to look at an example of a message written in the you-viewpoint.

Interoffice Memo Written from Receiver’s Viewpoint.
To:  Members of the Bell Company Community
FROM:  Abbott Winthrop, HR Specialist AW
DATE:  August 23, 200-
SUBJECT:  Vacation Fund

What would you do if you had to travel 1,000 miles to spend time with a critically ill family member but had no sick leave or vacation time from which to draw?

As a Bell employee, you would probably request additional paid time from the Vacation Fund. Because the need for time off has been great over these past few months, however, the fund has been exhausted. Without additional time donations, current and future needs will go unmet.

Please consider donating some of your unused vacation time to this important fund. A week, a day, or even a few hours can make a dramatic difference for a worker in need. Forms can be obtained from LeAnn Luther (lluther, x7008) or online (http://www.bellco.com/~hr). LeAnn is also available to answer questions you have about the program.

Thank you for your past and future donations to the fund.

Adapted for use here, courtesy of the Module, Business Communication, By A.C. Krizan, Patricia Merrier, Joyce P. Logan, Karen Schneiter Williams

The goal of the message in the example, above, is to persuade readers. Notice how the message engages the receiver in the opening paragraph and uses an employee-centered approach throughout the remaining paragraphs.

Contrast this writing style to one that uses a “We need your help” approach. Which would motivate you to contribute?

By implementing the you-viewpoint, you will be able to design your message to address the receiver’s concerns, needs, and motivations.

Determining your receiver’s attitudes will assist you in avoiding or carefully handling negative situations.

Finally, anticipating your receiver’s emotional reaction will influence whether you use a direct or an indirect approach in your message.

    This has been the continuum of the discussion “You-Viewpoint”, we started in Page One.
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