To ‘we’ or not to ‘we’?

To ‘we’ or not to ‘we’?

Have you ever had someone say “We are going to XX” or “We should XX” and then, a few days later, come to find out that that meant you  were supposed to do it? I have.

These days, everything – whether it’s work, sports or volunteer – is about the team. As such, it’s almost become passé to use phrases such as “I’m going to …” or “I created …” But while making everything – from activities to terminology – about the team is inclusive, it can make some things confusing and even over-complicated.

Communication is key in business, and being less-than-clear on every front can slow things down or create opportunities for duplicity.

Here are a few quick hits to help you sort out when “we” is appropriate and when it isn’t, both in business and in life:

APPROPRIATE

  • “We played a great game today.” (even if only Johnny really played well today)
  • “Did we get that contract?”
  • “We won!”
  • “We work really well together.”
  • “We promise …”
  • “weareimagine.com” (See what I did there?)

CONFUSING

  • “Can we get that done?”
  • “Did we contact so-and-so?” (Um, I didn’t, but if you did, then I guess “we” did …)
  • “Can we pick up some more eggs from the store?” (Twenty-four eggs for two people, anyone?)
  • “Can we plan a day where …?”
  • “We need to be better about …”

You get the idea. In all of the “confusing” instances, “we” should be replaced with someone’s name or “you” so everyone knows exactly what’s going on. If, in doing so, you’re worried about coming across as un-teamly, don’t! Everyone will appreciate knowing exactly what’s expected of them.

What other communication distorters do you see creeping into everyday language?

Melissa Biernacinski serves as Director of Media Relations for Imagine Communications. Email Melissa by clicking here.

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