The words you use in all your work-related communications can have a major impact on how others see you as a leader. And as an entrepreneur, it’s very easy to put yourself right in the middle of it, on a pedestal, as the person who founded the company. But as you should all know by now, you don’t build your business alone, and credit should be shared with everyone so that everyone feels respected and motivated in their daily endeavors as part of the business. It all starts with removing the word “I” from your vocabulary, effective immediately.
Defining “I” vs. “We”
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “I” speaks to one’s SELF, with a personal INDIVIDUALITY. And the same source defines the word “We” as “a GROUP that includes me”. Note the big difference between the two: using the word “I” makes it sound like you are building your business on your own, and using the word “we” clearly lets others know that you are part of a team that is just as busy building your business. the success of your business.
What does that mean for your communication?
Unless you are a solopreneur who works alone, omit the word “I”. And even then, you are most likely working in some capacity with other outside partners (e.g., investors, bankers, accountants, lawyers, contractors, agencies). And they also want to feel that they are contributing to your success. So you too should exchange “I” for “we” when working with someone involved in your business.
What communication are we talking about?
ALL notices should be changed to remove the word “I”. Verbal conversations over the phone, written communications over email, company materials describing the company’s efforts. . . actually everything. You should set up a “curse jar” that every time you interact with the word “I”, you have to put a dollar in the jar. For some of you, you may have just found your source of capital for your next fundraising needs!!
What is the result?
Making this change will have a lasting impact on your team. You no longer run the risk of being seen as a callous egotist. Instead, you’ll better motivate your team, give your employees a sense of self that is committed to the company’s success, and foster long-term loyalty to your company.
Who am I speaking to?
You must look in the mirror, while I speak to YOU. Review the last few emails you wrote to your team. Do you see the word “I” there somewhere? Probably!! Stop that!! Before sending out your next company communication, proofread it to make sure the word “I” is nowhere to be found.
For entrepreneurs who have spent years at the center of their world, this will be a very difficult bad habit to break. But if you are religious about removing the word “I” from your vocabulary, your team will notice, appreciate you including them in your COLLECTIVE success (not your INDIVIDUAL success) and want to work hard WITH you (not FOR you) , as a leader who knows how important your team is in building THE company (not YOUR company). As you can hopefully see now, the words you use with your team really matter.
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.