“I”, “We” and “You”

from Seth’s Blog

One of the most profound ways to change your posture and the way you and your organization interact with customers and partners is to change your pronouns.

Instead of saying “I” when you’re ready to take credit, try “we.”

Instead of saying “we” when you’re avoiding responsibility, try “I.”

And, every time you’re tempted to depersonalize the impact of your actions, try “you,” while looking the impacted person in the eye.

Words matter.

More here.

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6 Comments

  1. I can agree with Seth’s post. When people speak in a conversation, the way we use different forms of tenses like in other foreign languages to express what we are trying to say can be tricky trying to have a conversation in a business format. For example, when a customer is complaining about a failed product or service, the company could release a statement depending on how the person or group states the notice or this could fail and miss the connection with the customer. If they begin using “we”, it loses touch with the specific person trying to solve the problem and could being falling into the blame of the company rather than the blame of the product or service. Also, it could depend on the way we choose to solve the problem. However, there can be conflictions when an employee uses “I” to express their feelings and statements, showing how the person individually solved the problem when possibly the company had already solved a problem like this and used the same solution to solve this one. For example, a co-worker I have has always taken responsibility for solving a problem at work and knows when to point the finger at others even when he caused the problem himself. For myself, I always refer to each of my bosses to see how they feel the problem should be solved and always go with the tenses they use when they explain how we will solve the issue. Many questions can be easily answered and solved without the help of my bosses, but the form of when I answered the question depends on the situation. For example, if there is a question about a product or certain products and they ask for my opinion, then I use the form “I”. However, if it is a question about our service center, then I use the form “we”. My co worker will always use “I” even if it is a question where he is not in authority over the decision or solution and if the customer is not asking his preference or decision. It’s always important to make sure a person is using the right tense so that there are no issues and that no coworker, customer, or boss finds fault with that person.

  2. The premise of this blog post is responsibility and how to change to better oneself as an individual and change to be a better member for the organization. In terms of taking responsibility this can be a hard concept for a lot of people because they want to put the blame on others. In younger generations cases they are already seen as thinking they deserve everything, and they don’t take responsibility so using different pronouns to take responsibility is a small step to gain respect and show one is a responsible individual. I also find that taking responsibility in that way helps when working with teams because then you also gain more respect and willingness to work with you and complete future assignments even if you had to take responsibility for a mistake this time around. In class we had a talk about how words matter when talking to other people and in this case, it is just an example of how words can project hw you take responsibility or not and how much someone is going to respect you as a college depending on what pronoun you are going to use. In bettering oneself this way it just comes out to be the first step towards making one more responsible. Saying we when credit is due is basic enough that if one has ever played on a sports team they know that accomplishing a group goal isn’t a one man job. For instance, in football it takes all 11 people on the field for the team to be successful and win games. The quarterback cant do everything himself. The last part of the article talks about being direct with people and this is another major point that connects with respect and warrants the attention of generations to come. The basic principle of looking people in the eye is a matter of respect and making people know that you are paying attention to what they are saying. This to me also seems like a matter of peer review as in if there is a problem with another person then talk to that person and make it clear what they could be doing better. Overall I find that the article is something that everyone can pull their own takeaway from and everyone should read it as a reminder of what they should be doing in their personal and professional lives all around.

  3. The way we use words has a greater impact than most people realize it can affect how people perceive you. Learning how certain words are used in certain situations is very valuable thing to know. After reading this article it reminded me of my childhood when parents used to preach this to me. They would often tell me watch how you say certain things to people. They told me that people can interpret the things that you say in different way. This meant that I needed to watch what I say and how I said it because it can easily get taken out of context. I found it interesting when the article brought up how to use I and we, that definitely reminded me of the moment that my parents told me this. This is important for everyone to know, understanding how to talk to people is very helpful in the long run. I will help you build better relationships with people and it can make you a better employee in whatever field that you are in.

  4. First impressions can either make you or break you. This is why it is very important to make a successful first impression. In order to do this, it is important to speak properly. Often times, our language is not the best due to our engagement with peers. Obviously, we are not able to project the same way as we would with future employers. It is important to acknowledge how you speak before you talk to a professional. When engaging with a professional, it is important to speak properly and engage eye contact. If you talk improperly, a future employer would never hire you or think your responsible enough.

    After reading this article, I definitely related to how the different use of words can impact your image. When engaging with my friends, I never speak English properly and I happen to use a lot of slang. However, when engaging with adults, professors, and professionals, I change my tone and attitude. You should always think before you speak. Being aware of how you speak can save you from embarrassment. Using filler words like “um” and “like” can be very unappealing when talking to a professional. Showing confidence when articulating your words can be very helpful. It is also very important to be polite! Being rude or aggressive is not going to get you anywhere in the business world. This sense of attitude is ill-favored by employers because they seek for employees that can be pleasant to work with.

    When I was interning at an accounting firm, I was put into a team with four other individuals. My boss asked me many times on how the group was doing, and I always referred the groups actions by saying “we,” whenever I tried to tell him about our achievements. Even though some of the individuals didn’t participate to their fullest, I always gave a positive impression in order to show my team working skills and efforts. I would never talk about my personal achievements. It is important to recognize other’s in order not to sound egotistical. Once my boss realized I was able to work with others, he promoted me to more difficult work! Therefore it is important to speak professionally in order to save yourself from embarrassment and become successful.

  5. I think that it is important to understand that everything you say could be taken the wrong way by the recipient. Something as little as saying “we” instead of “I” when taking credit for something could make you sound more like a team player rather than someone bragging. The perception that customers get when talking to you is obviously very important because you want their business. A good choice of vocabulary could put your business above competition and allow the business to reach new heights. One company that chooses their vocabulary very wisely is Chick-fil-a. I’m sure we all already know just how wonderful Chick-fil-a’s customer service is and that is a huge reason as to why they were ranked the #1 fast food restaurant in America. One way Chick-fil-a changed their vocabulary was getting rid of “your welcome”. You may or may not have noticed if you’ve ever been to a Chick-fil-a restaurant, they refuse to say “your welcome”. Instead, employees prefer to say “my pleasure”. The change of words does make a huge difference in the perception of employees to customers. It makes people feel like their business is not taken for granted and their satisfaction is really important to them. Something as little as that can completely change your business as it has for Chick-fil-a. Making customers feel like they matter will make them want to come back and that obviously will boost your business.

  6. Seth touches upon a crucial aspect of how you show sincerity in the professional world with “I”, “we” and “you”. I was impressed by the suggestion he gives that instead of saying “I” when you’re ready to take credit, try “we.”

    The mistake that most employees make in a business setting when taking on credit, is assuming that your employers and customers do not see through the veil and notice which individuals take on collective accomplishment and personal responsibility for the victories and mistakes of their actions. Every efficient solution that an employee has engineered is for the purpose of making your company look good. Therefore by establishing that it is “our” effort that brought out a victory, you present the company as a treasure-trove of innovative thinkers than a single employee who appears desperate to work up the hierarchy ladder.

    I was all the more surprised by how this has relevance in the way we take on responsibility for our actions through “I”. That shows a level of integrity and discipline far above someone coming to directly pitch these attributes to a employer. Words do matter and they do shape the imprint of your character!

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