When it comes to a speaking tip that is hard to implement, it would be eliminating phrases like “Y’all” and “You Guys” from your speaking. When you use phrases that group your audience, it will have a negative impact on your success since some of your audience will opt-out, believing that they are not part of the “Group” you are talking about.
Always speak to the individuals, not to the group.
When you saw the title of this blog, “Two Tips to Get Past the Y’all and You Guys Habit,” you might have wondered what the heck is he thinking about? Well, when you’re communicating with other people, even if it’s just two people, there are some normal speaking habits that many people have … in fact, I would say most people have … that can cause those other people to disengage a little bit from the conversation. They can also opt out of whatever you’re recommending.
There are many phrases, and it varies by personality, where you’re originally from, and what part of the country you live in, but it could be, “You guys,” “Youz guys,” “Y’all,” or in the South the plural of y’all is “All y’all.”
Anytime you say any of those phrases that group the people you’re talking to into one group, some of them are going to disengage.
For example, if I were to stand here and say, “Y’all need to really strengthen your speaking skills to be more successful,” because I said “y’all” some of you just said, “No, my speaking skills are fine right where they are. I don’t need to develop my skills; I’m as successful as I need to be.”
Well, by replacing those phrases with the simplified form “you,” it becomes much more direct. For example, if I say, “When you refine your speaking skills, you will be more effective.”
Who am I now talking to? I’m now talking to you, and you, and you, and you. I’m talking to every one of you. I’m not speaking to you as a group; I’m speaking to you on a personal on an individual basis, and it doesn’t matter if you’re speaking to two people, 200 people, and 2,000 people, it’s the same technique.
So we have this challenge of using grouping verbiage; there are two ways to get past this.
Tip 1 – Awareness
The first tip is awareness; you’re starting to develop your awareness of this issue just by watching this video. The more you increase your awareness the more you’re going to become conscious of how often you group people together when they really shouldn’t be.
The second part of the awareness tip is to ask your friends and family to call you on it every time you use phrases like “y’all,” “all y’all,” “you guys,” “youz guys,” , By having them mention every time you say one of the grouping phrases, it’s going to further increase your awareness and you’ll start catching yourself as you say it.
I am not for a second going to claim that this is an easy process. I teach this, I’ve been teaching this for years, and every once in a while when I’m presenting I still catch myself popping out a “y’all” or “you guys” when I really shouldn’t.
Tip 2 – The Hallway Test
Now the second technique is called the hallway test. For those of you who have seen a number of my videos, you know that I talk often about recording yourself presenting, doing your self presentation. It’s a great way to refine your speaking style. As you are thinking about your sales presentation, your keynote address, the meeting you’re about to conduct in the board room, undertaking the hallway test is a great way to verify that your language is you-focused.
The hallway test says, In your presentation, if you would normally say, “You guys, we really need to work harder,” or “Y’all, why don’t we do this?” Ask yourself, “If I was walking down the hallway and ran into Mary, would that sentence or statement make sense?”
So, you’re walking down the hall, you see Mary, and you say to Mary, “You guys, we should really do this.” Well, Mary would look at you kind of funny, because if you’re talking to one person you wouldn’t say “you guys,”
Maybe you’re walking down the hall, you run into Bob, would you say to Bob, “Bob, y’all should try this or y’all should do that”?
Now some of you might, but is it as clear as saying, “Bob, would you like to do this?,” or “Bob, you should try this approach”?
So test in the hallway … not really, but in your mind, to see if the statement works.
Raise your awareness, have your friends and family call you on it, and use the hallway test.
With awareness and the hallway test you will start having more productive conversations because the people you’re talking to know you’re talking to them directly, and that’s the objective.
Good luck. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s got a huge payoff.