Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

To “we” or not to “we”? November 17, 2013

To we or not to we?You know that moment a friend reveals an annoying habit in your favorite TV character, then all the sudden, you can’t focus on anything else? I did that to myself the other day.

I was sending emails requesting help on a marketing campaign last week and noticed I constantly said “we” instead of “I”, despite the fact that it was originally my idea and I was the only person doing the work. I was not bitter about that part of it, I was excited for my project; I was annoyed with myself for not taking credit for my ideas and work. It was something that I became more conscious of as the week went on and I interacted with others and sent more emails. Why couldn’t I take ownership for a project  that I was proud and excited to initiate?

So, being the word nerd that I am, I began self-reflecting on what I felt was a problem beyond just swapping pronouns. “We” is an inclusive, plural pronoun and involves other people. “I” is about the individual; a person that does something alone. That in mind, I came up with a few theories behind my choice of words.

Theory 1: I truly am a team player. By choosing “we” I am giving others credit and sharing successes together. To use “I” over “we” seems selfish because I did ask someone else a question, which, thereby involves them in the project, no matter how small that seems. I really can’t take 100% credit for something if I am only responsible for 98% of the idea.

Theory 2: By choosing “I”, I take sole ownership of the success or fail of the project. Choosing “we” shows that I am afraid of being responsible, especially if the campaign should happen to fail.

Theory 3: I want to include others to improve my bargaining power. I can succeed better by name dropping, as someone might do to get into a cool club. As a new employee with other teammates all across the nation, the other employees resonate better with a name they recognize and have met, rather than a name they have only seen on a paper or email introduction.

Theory 4: “We” is a vindication for my idea and a reminder that I have support in my project or idea. “I had this idea and we are doing it!”

I’m guilty of each of these. I completely made each theory up, but it’s been helpful to self-reflect and analyze my motive behind my pronoun choice. I realize that I have to be a huge nerd to write an entire blog post about two pronouns, but when I stepped back and considered why I was doing what I was doing in conversations, it opened up my eyes.

Being a team player is definitely a great attribute, but I’d encourage you to do your own self-analysis to discover if you, like me, have a tendency to sacrifice yourself for any of the reasons I mentioned. There are situations in which choosing the inclusive term is appropriate, but I’d bet if you consciously think about whether it’s necessary to include others in your communication, you’d find more opportunities for “I” than you’d think.

I was curious to see if any research had been done on this subject, but had no exact match. I thought someone would suggest my habit was because I am a millennial (the world is hating on millennials these days) or maybe they’d suggest it was because I am a woman. Help ease my mind and tell me what you think. Have you ever noticed that you might be selling yourself short?



Being Young & Confident at Work February 17, 2013

Filed under: Young Professional — thisgirlsarah @ 7:15 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

I don’t always quote Cosmopolitan magazine. In fact, I never have in my life, but this isn’t about makeup and hair, I promise. I was reading my February issue and saw an article titled, “Can Looking Too Young Hurt You at Work?” by Marissa Hermanson. I was surprised that the byline didn’t list my own name because I felt like Marissa was reading my mind.

I recently returned from a week long company-wide meeting in which my age came up at least once a day with various people. My line is always: “Someone has to be the baby of the company, might as well be me!” (cue a great big smile).

Fresh out of college, I feel blessed to be doing exactly what I want for a reputable company. During my interview for this position, I was flat out told that I was the least experienced and youngest applicant they had seen. Why should they pick me?

We have to know what we have to offer and prove again and again that we are (or can be) an asset to the company. The truth is that no one that was teasing me about my age could do what I do. It takes a young person, a millennial who has grown up with social media, to do the job successfully. I have a leg up on my elder counter-parts BECAUSE of my age, but that doesn’t make it any easier to interact with people who see you as inexperienced and young.

My conversations this week weren’t implying that I was too young to do my job, but that doesn’t lift the insecurities I feel sitting in meetings or sharing ideas. It’s still intimidating to be the least experienced/youngest in the room.

I was hired to do a job and was deemed the best candidate to accomplish the job; I must remember that. During our annual meeting we were asked to create a professional development plan for ourselves. I wrote: Be an asset. I have tasked myself with the responsibility to continue learning about the industry, both public relations and my company’s industry. Staying on top of my game increases my co-worker’s confidence in me as well as my confidence in myself.

When it’s all said and done, I just have to remember that someday I’ll appreciate being asked, “Can you even drink?” “Why yes I can, but thank you for underestimating how old I am.” It’s like how as a 21-year-old you don’t want anyone to ask for your ID because you want to look older, but when you realize they actually have stopped asking, you miss it.

For all you twenty-somethings with feelings similar to mine, remember your confidence carries you. You might be young, you might be insecure, but they picked you and you have to own your skills and be an asset to the team.

Before I go, here’s one last Cosmo shout out. Career coach, Rachel A. Keener, wrote these 5 ways to be taken seriously at work:

  1. Consolidate your thoughts-Write one coherent email instead of several short ones.
  2. Sit front and center.
  3. Unplug at key moments- like meetings.
  4. Speak high to low-avoid sounding like you are asking a question.
  5. Volunteer to lead.

Does your age impact your work positively or negatively?


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