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JEFFREY TOBIN: Me, the third person

by on February 02, 2014 1:50 AM

How good are you at taking your own advice?

It can be a bitter pill to swallow. Advice is usually easier to serve to others than it is to take for ourselves. I often have the most trouble when I’m looking for a solution to a challenge of my own. I’m too close to it, “too emotionally involved” to see it clearly, be detached and keep my emotions from getting the better of me.

Sound familiar? It should: It’s a challenge that most of us face.

Want to solve some of your own challenges more easily? Here’s one solution: Think in the “third person.”

In English grammar, we utilize three “persons”: I, you, and he/she/it.

The first person is written from one’s own perspective. “I run quickly.”

The second person refers to another. “You run quickly.”

Finally, the third person addresses another in the impersonal “he (she or it) run(s) quickly.”

By thinking about ourselves in the third person, we are able to more easily detach ourselves from the process, thereby removing one of the barriers to thinking unemotionally.

This works for goal- setting, problem-solving and the host of other decisions we face every day.

Instead of trying to solve the problem for yourself, solve it for the other person, the third person.

Here’s how. Picture yourself as someone sitting across the table from you.

Think about how that person acts, responds, what value they add, their talents, goals and challenges.

Ask that person questions and listen to him/her talk about the issue they face. Take notes.

Be honest with them. Don’t deride him/her for faults (we are all human) and remember to take particular note of their strengths.

How would you advise that person to act? What would your recommended course of action be? What resources does he/she need?

In what part of the process could he/she excel and where might others be helpful? Make a list of recommendations. Create an action list of first steps to be taken.

Then get started.

We all get in our own way at times. Thinking of yourself in the third person is a great way to see things more clearly and have greater confidence in your decisions. It’s the spoonful of sugar that helps you take your own medicine, and to do it gladly.



Jeffrey Tobin, an international speaker and business coach. He is also the owner of Henry Hall Office Products in Indiana and hosts the website www.JeffreyTobin.com. His professional advocacy columns appear Sundays in the Business section of The Indiana Gazette and the Community News page on The Indiana Gazette Online.
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