Smitten with Him

grown-up stuff happens here sometimes

I Hate The Word “We”

on October 7, 2015

It’s been a while since I’ve had a rant about work…

 The patronizing “we”

The patronizing we is used sometimes in place of “you” to address a second party, hinting a facetious assurance that the one asked is not alone in his situation, that “I am with you, we are in this together”. A doctor may ask a patient: And how are we feeling today? This usage is emotionally non-neutral and usually bears a condescending, ironic, praising, or some other flavor, depending on intonation: “Aren’t we looking cute?”.

The dictatorial “we”

The dictatorial we is … … … more commonly used in spousal conversations or relating to them. More often used by one person having or showing a tendency to tell people what to do in an autocratic way. Take for example the following portion of a conversation:
  • As soon as we get the rest of the brick work done (in progress) this is part of the plan…
This person is using the dictorial “we” and implying that the other will be doing the work and that they are currently behind and has more waiting afterwards. This form looks nicer and comes across as being less harsh. In spousal dialect this phrase could be loosely swapped out with the following:
  • As soon as {insert spouse name} gets off their lazy butt and finishes the brick work this is the next thing I will have them doing…”
From Wikipedia


Holy Shit! I don’t think that there is any other single word that triggers ire in me more profusely than when the pronoun “we” (or “us”) is used in place of “you”..

It’s just plain off-putting.

For example: if a person asks me, “When do you think we will be able to get that project done?” I am likely to respond, “I didn’t know you were going to be helping me with aforementioned project. Let me know when you‘d like to get started.” While on the inside my blood is boiling and I am probably visualizing myself stabbing said person in the neck with my pen. (that exact incident happened yesterday… Go figure!)

Why couldn’t the question be phrased more like: “When do you think you will be able to complete that project?” That way seems nicer… More truthful… Less patronizing and/or condescending… More emotionally intelligent and aware…

Why exchange the “we” for the “you”? What does that accomplish? Does it make the experience more tolerable for me if I am deluded into thinking it will be a team effort? Or will I just be angry because, as both parties know, it truly is my job to complete the task alone?

Is it really that hard just to use the word “you” and hold me personally responsible for something that was my duty to begin with?

How to Kill a Persuasive Speech with One Tiny Word

Excerpt from “How to Kill a Persuasive Speech with One Tiny Word” by Dr. Michelle Mazur – click on picture to read the entire article

“‘We’ shows that you don’t care about those individuals as super awesome people.”

One response to “I Hate The Word “We”

  1. […] I Hate the Word “We” […]

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