“Have you ever noticed how often we use the word “I” in a conversation. Whenever we do talk to someone it’s not difficult to accidentally make the conversation about ourselves.”
When I first heard this quote it made me more aware of how often I used the word “I” in a conversation. It was common for me start a conversation or chat with someone for a period of time and use the word “I” at some point. It got to the point where it was difficult to try not to use that word in my vocabulary whenever making conversation.
So in the start of 2016, I chose to challenge myself to completely remove the word “I” from my vocabulary for an entire day. This challenge would not only require me not to say “I”, but words that utilize “I” in abbreviation like, “I’m, I’ll, and I’d”. This challenge was not just limited to conversations spoken orally, but also through different forms of communication such texting, e-mailing, and IM’ing. To make sure there wasn’t a way to cheat this challenge, like staying quiet for the entire day, I made it required to be able to do this challenge only on days where I’m doing my regular duties. These were days where I was the most talkative whether it was when I worked, doing extracurricular activities, blogging, socializing, or other activities that required a lot of communication.
This challenge ended up being quite different than some of the others on my list. Instead of it being an accumulation of activities or one activity happening on a specific day/event, this was something that could be done every single day. This challenge meant there was a lot more room for failure throughout the year. So, when the year started I decided to take up this challenge right on January 1st. At first, I thought this challenge would be a bit difficult but possible after a handful of failures. However, despite being actively aware of not using the word “I”, it ended up taking me 114 consecutive days before successfully completing this challenge.
Doing this challenge ended up becoming quite the experience. When “I” was removed from my vocabulary it largely influenced the way I conversed with others. Trying to be aware of not using the word “I” ended up making me talk slower than usual, often making me think about what to say for a good 1-2 seconds before actually speaking. This ended up causing me to put a lot more thought into what to say order to convey a concise but meaningful message.
Although the most interesting aspect of not saying “I” was how much it shifted what to say during a conversation. Removing the word “I” from all conversations also removed most topics related to myself. This shifted about 95% of my conversation to either be more general or about the other person/people I was conversing with. This helped me realize how much people tend to like to talk about themselves.It felt like one of the easiest ways to make someone happy was to make the discussion about them. When they are talking about themselves they seem to be a lot more open towards sharing things about themselves and enjoyed my company more. Whenever I conversed with different strangers it was far quicker for them to be friendlier towards me than prior to when I started this challenge.
Even though this challenge is completed, the habit of trying not to say “I” still has stuck with me. Many of my conversations have now shifted to rarely talking about myself to instead making talking more about other person. I still have an awareness for speaking with others and find how little the word “I” is used. Not sure if this has became a temporary habit influenced by this challenge or if the result is more long term. Whatever the case, this challenge proved to be extremely difficult yet fun to do.
2016 Challenge List
Do not say “I” for an entire day