Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Guarding against using the word "I"--struggles in humility

I remember reading in an interview book several years ago about things to watch for while interviewing a prospective employee. One of the things the book noted was repeated use of the word "I," rather than "we." The author indicated that this was a sign of a self-promoting attitude, rather than a team attitude.

Last night on American idol I noticed that one of the singers said twice that he was "self-taught." Then he had a couple of "I did this or that" in regards to accomplishments. Most people might not analyze it, but hearing him, they would probably think, "He's a bit full of himself."

The sad fact is, when we speak like this, it is because we have a low self-esteem, we feel like we have not received the attention and acknowledgement that we deserve, or we place self-worth in our accomplishments. Obviously, we will talk with "I's" all the time in other contexts, but we need to avoid this language when we are trying to impress people. I caught myself saying something like this the other day, unnecessarily telling something that I had done. I cringed at the sound. It is best to say, "We did this." Or, "God worked through me to accomplish this."

It is better to let others notice these things, or tell them to our spouse, who will cheer us on and want to be proud of us. Achievers, who are accomplishment oriented, need to especially remember this.

Other signs that we have a problem with this:
  • If we are always giving people our resume
  • If we are thinking, If I say this, this will impress them.
  • If we are always steering the conversation back to what we have done.
  • If we are constantly worrying about what other people think.

Do you notice the "I's" in your own life or in others?