Do You Measure Your We-We?

The next time you’re talking with someone in a position of authority or responsibility, try this: Count the number of times they say “we” or “us” — versus “me”, “my” or “I”.

For example, imagine you work at a company that makes gizmos. You’ve worked hard with a group of people to create the gizmo, and someone in a leadership position relates a story about meeting with a potential Client and says: “I want them to see the value of my product.

Oh really, it’s your product?

Or, are they more inclusive, and instead say something like: “We want to show them the value we can provide.

I would argue that in certain situations, leaders who use words that are inclusive (like “we” or “our”) resonate more strongly with the people around them than those who make things about themselves.

Personally, I am put off by a person who makes it all about them.  I’m sure this is much more about me and my issues than them and their words, but I often wonder how people would respond to their leaders if more inclusive words are used.  I’m sure there are studies that have looked at this.

So the next time you’re thinking about how to communicate to your team (or listening to someone in leadership), consider measuring your (or their) we-we factor (not wee-wee, come on kids!), and see if you notice any difference when inclusive words are used.

What do you think? Are you turned off by people who make things about themselves? Does it make any difference in how you feel?  Or, are people like me just too sensitive?

About David Rosendahl
Husband, father of 4, co-founder of MindFireInc, two-time Inc500 software company. I love building things and helping you generate more leads and grow sales predictably.

3 Responses to Do You Measure Your We-We?

  1. Alan Irons says:

    You’re much too sensitive. j/k. Actually, I do think the inclusive argument works with the “we” (vs. “I”). Whenever I’ve heard our corporate leaders address us it’s truly a team effort, and it’s us, or rather, “our customers,” that matter. (Our customers, our customers, our customers–that’s a great focal point.)

    The only time I don’t like to hear “we” is when someone uses it in a demeaning, or sarcastic tone of voice, like a server at a restaurant who says, “How are we doing?” as if to you’re a doctor’s patient. Use “we” in a true inclusive way, use “I” to be accountable. If it is truly a team failure, for example, use “we,” but otherwise use “I” (i.e. “I broke the software build”) and create a culture of accountability. And finally, “the” is not a bad way to term a product, if you want to be “all in.” “I want to see the value of THE product.” That makes the product the focus, and not “who.” But truly, CUSTOMERS–that’s key. Good point, and sorry if I went off on a big tangent there.

    Basically, when it comes down to talking with someone in authority or responsibility, yeah, I’d like to hear “we” much more, but at the same time, having respect for hierarchical relationships and authority, it really doesn’t bother me much when I hear “I.” Too many times I’ve heard people taking credit for something they didn’t do, but I shrug it off and more times than not I’ve seen it backfire.


  2. It’s true that you prefer more inclusive words. I know that you can’t stand it when I refer to our bed as “my bed” or our room as “my room” even when I am talking with someone else and you aren’t even there. 🙂 I love you! You are doing such a good job with your blog.

  3. Pingback: ROI Of A New Blog With Frequent Content « Akathisia: A Life In Motion — David Rosendahl

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