There’s no “I” in “Team” … but there’s no “We” in “Team” either.
Come to think of it, there’s no “U” in “Team”.
I don’t know when I became obsessed with saying “we” whenever I sit across the table from someone and talk to them about what “I” have been doing or what “I” have been working on. I have a sneaking suspicion that it actually started sometime in 2010 when I started writing articles for this site. In the beginning, there was something a little comforting in saying “we” … it was a buffer from having to stand by myself on an island and hold myself out as the individual responsible for the articles I was writing. It’s no secret that when I started writing Life of an Architect that my biggest fear was that I would look like a complete idiot to my peer group.
Obviously that ship has sailed.
In some cases, it is extremely easy to use the word “we” – maybe it feels like the responsibility of your actions is somehow perceived differently if it sounds like someone else agrees with you – “We think the best thing you can do is _______.”
Other than just a very small sample collection of articles, I am basically responsible for all the information that shows up on this site – for better of for worse. Now I will still say “We” even when it is just me because I think it’s the right thing to do. Most of the things I cover are rarely just mine – none of the projects I have ever shown are 100% mine … someone else assuredly worked on them in some capacity along the way.
Now that I am part of a much larger group, I am even more mindful to say “We” when I speak to other people. Most of the time I think I am fairly unique in this regard, most of the time all I hear from the person speaking is “I” –
I decided that…
When I was…
I think that…
In every one of these instances, the word “We” could have been used to the exact same effect and it wouldn’t be all that difficult to make a case for the fact that – at least from your client’s perspective – using the word “We” is a lot better because it posits the idea that there is consensus in a particular thought process, or of a conclusion made – something that supports the direction being described.
The word “I” is a take credit type of word, while saying “we” is a sharing credit type of word. Is it that architects are bad at sharing? I wrote The Architect’s Ego a while back and thought that it seemed to resonate with this post a little bit:
Of course I have an ego – an architect’s ego – but I’ll be 46 on my next birthday and despite having been at this for 21 years, I’m just now getting started. That’s a long time to wait, to believe that I have what it takes do what I want to do as an architect without really putting myself out there, without having the shelter between me and some other people’s names out on the door. What are the defining characteristics of ego? Self-confidence? Arrogance? Self-assuredness? Certainly, but there are other characteristics as well. What about “Certainty”, “Resolve”, and “Determination”?
While saying “I” is definitely a first-person position (and certainly conveys that you are taking ownership of the information you are presenting) it is that same ego that should allow you to mentally take a step back and lean on that confidence and certainty and not feel like you have to say “I” all the time so that the people you are addressing know that you are the one in charge.
Everyone in my office is exceptionally good at saying we instead of I when the situation calls for it – it’s something that I pay particular attention to because everybody typically helps everyone else out. This sort of mentality is why I love working collaboratively because we all work on the same projects – even if sometimes it is only from the periphery. If a client or vendor calls into the office, typically there is someone there who can help you get the information you need because we all know what’s going on.
Ahhhhh, the power of “We” … (yes, I read that sentence as well, but I’m sticking with it)
I was we were thinking about.