One of the most dangerous words in the workplace is the word, “we”.
You see, too many people toss around the word as a way to disguise their complaints as suggestions.
“We need to communicate more effectively.”
“We should have summer hours like ABC company does.”
“We need to stop wasting money.”
The word “we” absolves individuals of accountability. If “we” are supposed to be responsible for something, then who exactly is responsible? We implies everybody. And if everybody is responsible, then nobody is responsible.
What most people mean when they say “we” is “anybody but me”. And many times, they really want to say “our leadership”, but they don’t have the nerve to say it.
If you want change to occur, you have to change “we” to “me”. You are the only person you have complete control and influence over. You can wish other people will change. You can even try to coach & develop others into the people you’d like them to be. But you and I both know that’s like pushing an elephant on rollerblades up a hill.
Try changing your we to me when you’d like something to change at work and see what happens. When you hear the word, “we” in a suggestion, simply ask yourself, “Who, again?”
We need to communicate more effectively.
Who needs to communicate more effectively?
Oh yeah, I meant ME.
Just so you know, your very next thought will be “Crap, now I’m accountable.” Sorry. But if you want change, YOU need to be part — or the start — of the change.
Now if you say “we” when you really mean someone specific (other than yourself), knock it off. Go straight to that person and tell them. “Bob, you and I seem to have a communication breakdown, can we talk about it?”
By the way, context is everything. “We” is a great word to use when discussing battles, losses, and victories because it says we’re a team, we fight together, and we win and lose together. That’s a phenomenal attitude. Go team! You are given full permission to use “we” in such cases.
Pay attention to your language this week. See if you slip a “we” in there once in a while. We all do it (see, I just did it, too). When you hear yourself start a sentence with something like “We should…”, stop right there, turn that W upside down, and accept the challenge that positive change might end in we, but it always starts with me.