Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pronouns Indicating Teamwork and Humility

Occasional Posts on Language

I once worked with a graphics designer who had a couple of co-workers she routinely referred to as "my staff." Indeed, she was the team leader, but this use of the first person seemed self-aggrandizing. And I have subsequently found it in other middle managers in our field.

In early intervention and other human-service organizations, when we have at least three layers (e.g., boss, middle manager, workers), for the middle manager to talk about "my team" and "working for me" reveals (a) insensitivity to the fact that these people are also the boss's, (b) self-importance, and (c) unawareness of the organization or team. Better language is "our team" and "working for us."

In my experience, this problem is most commonly found in people who haven't supervised others before or very much.