What does the word YOU mean to you?


A while ago I went on a very interesting workshop and from that I learned a lot of new tools, what I also found was an interesting technique I still use today is gaining rapport and breaking rapport with a client.  Language is so important in my job as are all forms of communication.

I see many clients who are unconsciously (not aware)trying to bring me into their world and it is equally important I do not allow myself to do that in order to give them the best therapy sessions. It is not that I don’t feel for them and their situation but rather a matter of being objective about it. So how do they do this, with the little word “YOU”!!!!

It has become so intertwined in all of our language that we don’t even notice it anymore, unless you really listen and take note. When a client is explaining how they would like me to help them they often use the word “you” for example “You know what I mean? “Or “When you are feeling down it is really bad”. I stop them and say “When I’m feeling down or you?” and I ask them from this point on to refer to themselves as I. “When I am feeling down it is really bad”, the reason I say this to them is how do they know how I’m feeling or have even ever felt as they do? Do I really want to feel the same as a client coming to me for help??? NO

It will break rapport with the client, but it will also stop any unconscious actions on their behalf. I find the client will really start thinking about what they are about to say, often they don’t even know that they have been talking this way. I set them a task to not say “You” where it is not needed and also to listen to how many other people talk using the word “You”. I find that I will gain rapport easily again with the client again even after this little blip, and the session goes well.

I have taught this to almost all of my clients. In the past even a counsellor  who came to me for help, they were taken back a bit when I pointed this out saying “I had no idea I had been doing and saying “You” all of this time”. They went away with some food for thought about their own approach to language and now also use the technique within their job as a counsellor.

I hope this will give YOU a little to think about and also help with your everyday communication skills.

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Adam Cowming