If You Want to Be the Boss, Say “We” Not “I”
- Published: Monday, 09 March 2015 11:49
The royal “we” has a long and interesting history. Many attribute its first usage to King Henry II, who in 1169 used it to imply he was speaking for both himself, and for God. Overtime, leaders began to use it to imply them and their constituents (a distinction that got a little blurry when Margaret Thatcher proclaimed “we have become a grandmother” and got a significant amount of chastisement). But beyond using the plural pronoun to indicate that you speak on behalf of a others (or deity), it turns out that using “we” could also mean you’re more considerate of others and possibly even a better leader.
A team of researchers – Ewa Kacewicz, James W. Pennebaker, Matthew Davis, Moongee Jeon, and Arthur C. Graesser — studied the use of pronouns by individuals in a variety of contexts. Their theory was that pronoun usages (first-, second- or third-person and singular versus plural) could provide clues to an individual’s status inside a group or a hierarchy and possibly their likelihood of attaining higher status.