How To Avoid Being Boring By ‘Submerging The I’


This man has read too many tech websites. (Image courtesy of Shreyans Bhansali.)

Let’s say you’re going to your friend Amanda’s house for dinner. Should be fun. “There will be a few other people there,” Amanda tells you.

Then you arrive and you’re stuck next to Brian, a management consultant and golf aficionado with a penchant for long, self-important stories. Nearly every sentence he utters starts with “I…

Does it feel like Brian gives a fig about what you’re up to? Does he bore you to the point of drowning yourself in the soup?

What if he’d started by asking about you instead?

What if he’d simply used the word “you” more often and dropped the I-centricity?

The writer Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club and Choke, among others) has a term for this. He calls it “Submerging the I”.

Even when he’s telling a story in the first person, he uses “I” as little as possible. Palahniuk knows that self-absorbed people are only interesting to themselves.

Because what’s the subliminal message if you constantly use the word “I”?

You’re saying: “I’m not interested in you, I want to tell my story.

Round here, they call it “The Big I Am.”

Extrapolate that to a business and website copy environment and what message have you got?

“We don’t care about helping you, we’re only interested in ourselves.”

A dangerous message to put out, wouldn’t you say?

So, try not to let your website sound like Boring Brian. Focus on the you, and submerge the I and We as much as possible.

(P.S. You can check how me-centric you are using Futurenow’s customer focus calculator.)


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