YOU attitude: tips and examples

Four essential rules for writing with YOU attitude

1. Avoid starting  memos or letters or peer reviews with “I” or “We.”

Incorrect: “I have reviewed your Progress report and I think that you need to …..

Correct: Thank you for submitting this Progress report, please see a list if suggested edits ….

2. Avoid “you” when it criticizes the reader. The best way to do this – is to take the reader out of the sentence. For example:

Incorrect: Your assignment is overdo and you will loose ten points.

Correct:  Overdue assignments are penalized ten points.

3. Avoid Imperative verbs (commands).

Incorrect: You need to remove all the imperative verbs and replace with “ing” verbs

Correct: Replacing imperative verbs with “ing’ verbs improves the tone of a sentence. 

4. Using the pronoun “you” in the introduction and the conclusion only  helps to make a positive impression *** but remember using the pronouns ‘you’ and ‘your’  in the body creates a negative impression.

     Following these four rules of YOU will improve professional writing skills immensely

This is a good time to return to past assignments and practice by self-editing

with an eye for improving YOU attitude

Examples for correcting YOU techniques:

**In the introduction or first paragraph of a memo, email, letter:

INCORRECT: I have completed my review of your first draft of your report on The Customer Experience at the Richmond Olympic Experience Museum. My overall impressions are included below, within the peer review guide designed for this assignment. Please let me know if you have any questions or require clarifications to anything noted below. Bullet points include topics that were looked for when reviewing your report. Notes and additional thoughts for each section included below these points.

REWRITE with YOU attitude: Your peer review for ‘The Customer Experience at the Richmond Olympic Experience Museum’ is completed and includes overall impressions and notes for each section of the Report. Your questions are welcome.

**You Attitude requires avoiding imperative verbs and the word ‘you’ and ‘your’

in the body of the document. 

 For example:

 Incorrect: Centralize on your reader’s goals and what they want to know.”

 Rewrite:  Making sure the reader’s needs come first is important.

More examples:

 Incorrect:  “Your reader is a distinguished academic Professor. When writing your email consider the voice and tone of your audience. In this scenario it essential to write with a professional tone and make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.”

Rewrite: When writing to a professor, being considerate and writing with a professional tone and correct grammar are important.

 Begin practicing the YOU attitude in all your writing, especially peer reviews. 

 For example:

 Incorrect: I have read over your memo to Evan Crisp which provides thoughtful recommendations on how to write with the YOU attitude.  Overall your memo is well written, I can, however, help you with your writing by offering some insights:

Rewrite: The memo to Evan crisp is well written, however some tips on how to write with YOU attitude will improve the memo.

**In the Body of your work – Focus on taking out the ‘people’ and the ‘you’s’ and imperative verbs.

For example: 

Incorrect: Emphasize reader benefit by highlighting how the professor will be positively affected.
Instead of focusing on your own benefits of enrolling in the professor’s class, express how the they will benefit from having you as a student in their class. Rather than “I need to take three credits to graduate,” use a positive You Attitude, for example, “I am a senior student eager to contribute positively to this class.”

 Rewrite: Emphasizing benefits and positive outcomes for the reader will assist in receiving a positive response. For example: “assignments will be of a high standard and submitted on time.”

**Take out the ‘people’ – for example:

 Incorrect: “To elicit effective and open communication in writing to a professorwriters might consider the professor’s point of view, rather than the reader’s own aims. By showing an understanding or the awareness to care about the professor’s experiences (i.e. busy start of semester, full class, likely lots of emails), readers can elicit a more positive response, which goes a long way, especially when asking for something!

Rewrite: Considering the reader’s point of view and needs first will help ensure a more positive response – especially when making a request. For example, professors are busy, have full classes, and likely many emails.

Replace the imperative verbs:

Incorrect: Avoid using a condescending or insulting tone. Reduce the number of “you” words, as it may sound insulting and demanding to the reader. Avoid telling the reader what to do, and instead politely explain your situation and request to be enrolled. Do not forget to thank them for their time and effort.

Rewrite:  Avoiding the use of condescension and an insulting tone can be achieved by reducing the number of ‘you’ words. Avoiding imperative verbs will create a polite tone, as well as remembering to say thank you.

One last example:

Incorrect:   The objective for this assignment was demonstrating a “you” attitude in your writing for Evan Crisp. The main goal of “you” attitude is to help your reader with their goals and maintain positivity for the reader.  I think this goal could have been better utilized in your email.  I think this could have been done by including a sentence on how Evan will achieve his goal by following your advice.  You did a great job keeping negativity outside of your email, and only focusing on positive comments.  You didn’t miss out on any of the points in Evan’s email that needed corrections. I think that your email could have been longer and instead of only correcting him you could have given him some advice on his writing in a more general way.

Rewrite:  The objective for this assignment is to demonstrate ‘YOU Attitude’; the main goal being to assist the reader with a focus on the positive. Including a sentence on how Evan can achieve his goal by using this technique will be helpful. The email focuses on positive comments, which is great, and all of the points needing correction are covered. The email could be bit longer and include more general advice.

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