During a hypothetical request for advice on a problem so serious that no physical help can be expected, the person doing the asking is told, “What we must do is....” instead of the expected “What you should do is....”

With the changing of a single word the complexity of the problem is diminished.

Which grammatical term covers this single word change, this unexpected change in personal pronoun?

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    That change is performative: it effects a change in the relationship between the participants in the discourse, so it's a dramatic phenomenon, not a grammatical one. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 11 '16 at 14:46
  • Thanks Jimm. I had edited the original question which asked " which grammatical term would cover this dramatical change ... " but the word "dramatical" appeared red-underlined so I left it out. – TeeHeeHee Dec 11 '16 at 15:31
  • I'm not getting it. Could you tell a backstory to give more context? – aparente001 Dec 11 '16 at 23:40
  • aparente001 ... – TeeHeeHee Dec 13 '16 at 12:39
  • @aparente001 ... The person around whom the story revolves is in deparate need of help. Because of the seriousness of his situation,the most he can hope for is to be well advised. He explains his problem to a friend and is astonished to hear the friend tell him, "Okay, what we need to do here is ...", when he expected to hear, " Okay, what you need to do is ..." and with that change in personal pronoun the complexity of his problem is dramatically reduced. How do I describe the grammatical change from "You" to "we"? in one or two words – TeeHeeHee Dec 13 '16 at 12:56

I think the word you are looking for is


To render impersonal: *depersonalize an interview*

(American Heritage® Dictionary)

In your example:

The desperate person's friend depersonalized the situation, and the panicked person immediately began to calm down.

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It could be argued that the pronoun we and first person plural is more "personal" including as it does the speaker and the addressee, than the pronoun you which may also be plural and the level of personalisation does not seem to be the question imho, but rather the effect of the change that the OP wishes to describe, which again imho may be in the opposite direction to that indicated by "depersonalise."

"shift in person" is (used in some scholarly works) possible.

The speaker utilised a shift in person to the more inclusive first person plural, "we", encouraging the listener to realise that the problem was one faced by all.

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