Monday 28 October 2013

Don't say "we" when you meant "I"

Have you caught yourself saying "we" when you meant "I"?

Why do we do so?

I guess it's a natural survival instinct to want to be part of a school of fish or a herd of wildebeest. 

Maybe it's part Asian cultural makeup where we put the group first before the individual, or perhaps at the back of our minds, we knew the nail that sticks out gets hammered down...

Another way of hiding behind "we" is to quote others extensively. Who and who said this, he said this, she said that. Sounds familiar?

If you are in a leadership position, try asking your co-workers for their feedback and you know what I mean.

I often have to repeat myself:

"Thanks for telling me what others think. Now what's your opinion on this matter?"

"Ah, ah, ee, ee, or, or..."

Of course defintely say "we", "us", "our team", etc; when its to share credit and compliments!

Guess what? Now everyone starts saying "I" - how "I" contributed with the idea generation, the hard work, blah, blah, blah. 

Sure! Now modesty and humility goes out the window. Right...

Notice the below 2 statements when it's said with "I":

1)  I liked what the management stands for, and have faith their interests are aligned with our  shareholders' value. I therefore increased my stake in this core position.

2)  The analyst's summary and target price of this company is in-line with my own analysis and homework. I initiate a new position in this company's stock.

By putting "I" into our investments or trading positions, if things don't work out, we can go back and review our judgement of people and analytical skills.

Steel gets stronger through the pounding between hammer and anvil.

What's worse than hiding behind "we"?

It's blaming "them".  


  1. na, i said before, never put i in front of the market, put the market right in front of us!

    when trading, always use we the trader, or we the rabbit (or whatever animal you like), not i the rabbit.

    remember, rabbit don't eat rabbit, they eat something else.

    1. so if we the rabbit kanna eaten, we don't blame the hawk. we search for better strategy.

    2. Hello coconut,

      Need to move from "them" to "we", then to "I" before we can reach "no me" stage.

      You are too advanced for this post ;)


    3. oh forgot to tell you i have problem differentiat between "i" and we when saying something about me haha. we or i whats the different?

      i usually use we cos i feel that i'm not alone in this world.

    4. coconut,

      You are slightly dyslexic, and regular readers of your comments can understand what you say without taking it too literally.

      It's a free world!

      Do continue to use "we" if that makes you feel better.

      But using "we" so that we think others can feel better about us is another matter ;)

    5. well, in this aspect i'm more fortunate that i'm in the market place. cos i feel that "i" should not be existing, or self conserous should not be felt when trading, its all about probability and not emotions.

      easy said than done!

  2. I also notice quite a number of bloggers use "We" to impress upon readers or visitors that the writer is part of a bigger team supporting the blog

    Not OMO hor.

    1. CW,


      I definitely not the "we are legion" - "I".

      Irate customer complaining to waiter:

      "I want to speak to your captain!"

      "At your service Sir."

      "Oh! I want to speak to your manager!"

      "Sir, I am him too."

      "Damn it! I demand to speak to the owner!!!"

      "Yours truely." With a big beaming smile.

      But I was young once. I understand.

      Some wear heels to look taller.

      Some wear a toupee to hide a bald spot.

      Some wear big brand names to feel they belong.

  3. Hi SMOL,

    When I write emails at work, I always hide behind the "we", especially if it's a tad nasty =p

    For my blog, it's more to give my wife credit too? =)

    1. Hello 15 HWW,

      Thanks for your refreshing honesty!

      And I assume it will be "I" when you are sending complimentary emails ;)

      If you are the authorised spokesman for the company, then "we" is definitely OK. Especially if you end with: "On behalf of the company XYZ, or you put down your work designation after you name.

      It shows you are not speaking in your personal capacity - just another cog in the big wheel of corporate.

      If you have the chance, just compare the emails or letters written by managers and leaders (that's 1 way to tell them apart).

      One write in "legalistic 3rd person detached way"; the other in a direct 1 to 1 way ;)

      Rubber hits the road:

      Who is "we" when someone needs to take responsibility?


  4. Hi SMOL,
    Once you are in the in the Stock Market if you say we, 10 times out of 9 you are most probably belong to the losing camps.
    Anyway until you can think you are responsible for yourself even in a group, you have not found your i .
    Put it simply if you don't know who you are, you are always a we.

    And i think it's very sad to live life this way.
    Living like Jim Henson's Muppets -
    i love the Muppets.
    Maybe secretly, i want to live like them.
    Have fun.

    1. temperament,

      Spiritually and politically. we have alternate views.

      Yet I believe we can sip tea and have a lively debate in the bamboo grove together!

      Just like the 竹林七贤.

      At the very least, we are aware when someone is trying to finger up our arse to influence what we should think or do.



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