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A word to stop using at work

Photo: 10'000 Hours/Getty Images

Today’s tip: Don’t say “we” when you really mean “you.”

Using “we” where it doesn’t belong — as in, “We didn’t respond to that client in time” or “Do we know why the last deal fell through?” — is a tic of workplace communication that always seems like a better idea in theory than in practice. It’s usually an attempt to be diplomatic, but it often comes across as passive-aggressive. And saying “we” when the responsibility isn’t collective disempowers your colleagues in an awkward and confusing way.

So be direct. Say “I” when you mean “I,” “you” when you mean “you,” and “we” only when you truly mean “we.” Take ownership of your statements and requests so that others can take responsibility for their actions.

📚 More from Forge on better workplace communication:

Going Remote Is Forcing Us to Finally Talk About Work Boundaries

We Have to Get Over Our Fear of Taking Sick Days

How to Ask for a Mental Health Day at Work

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