Whacking the We: Tips for Improving the Office Environment

The other day I was in trouble. Ashley Forker, our Marketing Something or Other, was relying on me to brand and upload some web hosting tutorials. I was late in getting it done, and once I did I’d forgotten to upload one of the most necessary how-to videos. I received this email:

Jared, I thought we were going to do an outlookexpress.mp4?  Can we get it uploaded too please?

Now Ashley is 400 percent heart and all covered in hotness, so I hate to use her as an example. Especially since she’s responsible for what I call the “Forker Effect,” by which she is so rabidly positive she turns any Debbie or Danny Downer into an upper. Yet it is in this vein of empowering people that I propose we keep our coworkers happy by doing the following: Whack the WE.

The Royal Pain in the Ash.

I think it’s referred to as the Royal We, and you most likely know the scenario. Someone has something they want YOU to do but they approach it with WE. “Jared, I think WE need to get something on the blog.” So…uh…you’re helping?” No. They are just trying to be gentle in the most annoying way possible.

I asked Ashley why she went with the WE, and she said the YOU sounded too harsh, but if the world needs anything right now it’s some directness. If you need to soften things up, then simply put it in the form of a question: “Didn’t you say you were going to do a blog entry?” Actually, no, you said WE were going to.


I hear it all the time in parenting, too. The sweet, doting mother will say to her bundle of noise, “WE need to be quiet.”  No. YOUR toddling squawker needs to be be quiet. WE don’t need to do anything but enjoy the silence.

In a pinch, however, it can work in your favor, “Jared, I think WE should save some beer for the others.” In that case you can remind them that THEY are welcome to.