Stop using "we" when you mean "you."

Moron Corporate Manager: “Do we know what the problem is?”

Me: “We, meaning?” – yes, I’m a smart ass. But I’ve reached a senior technical position in the company where I’m at least equal (if not above) typical middle managers.

Moron Corporate Manager: “Do you know what the problem is?”

Me: “Not yet, but I’ll let you know when I discover something.”

Where did this crap come from? And why do people think they don’t sound like idiots when they use it?

Do we have a smartass problem here?

It seems like all the manager is doing is asking whether the problem is known. “We” in that case would be referring to your team, or your department, or the company as a whole. If I’m on your team and you know the problem, then it can be said that “we” know the problem, in the same way that if I have Photoshop installed and you don’t, it can be said that “we” have Photoshop available if we need it.

I seriously doubt the manager’s verbiage is intended to usurp partial credit for discovering the information he’s clearly requesting you to provide, revealing to all and sundry that he doesn’t currently know it.

Now, if you want to start a Pit thread about the corporate habit of “touching base”, I’ll be right there with guns a-blazin’.

If I were your manager and you pulled that shit with me, pretty soon you’d likely be hearing “we’re fired.”

This is exactly what his intention was. Why not just ask me a question, directly, you know, since it’s just you and me having the conversation? “We” don’t know what the problem is yet, because “I” was just told about it. “We” will never know exactly what the problem was, I assure you, but “I” certainly will since it’s “me” researching it. There is certainly no “we” here, since it’s an internal problem.

Vinyl Turnip, he’s not my manager. I report directly to the CIO. And he doesn’t speak like this – he’s much more direct.

Yag Rannavach, who’s we? Do you have a mouse in your pocket?

Very well. But I still think, from what information you provided, that your harping on that petty distinction makes you come across as the asshole in the conversation.

Probably so, but it’s more of me being fed up with it being used all the time by everyone.

If you say so. I really can’t see anyone thinking that this:

Manager: Give me information I do not have.

Dudley: Here is the information.

Manager: Ha! You fell into my clever trap! I used an ambiguous pronoun in my original query, and you, thinking I was merely using a common workplace colloquial phrasing, answered my question in good faith! Now, anyone listening in will be fooled into thinking I already HAD the information, as “we” both discovered it, and was therefore simply asking you for information I already had for no reason whatsoever! Credit is mine! Mwa ha ha HAAAAAAAA!!!

…would work.

If using “we” instead of “you” is a pet peeve of yours, then so be it, but it’s a commonly-used syntax in that type of environment, not an insidious plot to rob you of your accomplishments. I have no use for much of corporate middle management either, but it doesn’t pay to read too much meaning into their pronoun usage. You’ll drive yourself insane by the second memo you read.

You seriously have never seen this?

Manager to Client: We’re working on the problem.

Manager to Problem-Fixer: Do we know what the problem is?

Problem-Fixer to Manager: Yes, I just did this and that, and the problem’s fixed.

Manager to Problem-Fixer: Thanks.

Manager to Client: We’ve resolved the problem by doing this and that.

Client to Manager: Great work, thanks Manager!

Although very subtle, it is every bit as underhanded and slippery as you think it’s not.

The main problem I have with it is this. Don’t say “we” like you’re sitting there with me trying to figure out and resolve the problem. You’re not.

We’ll touch base about this issue tomorrow at lunch.

Yes, I’ve seen what you describe, but I wouldn’t describe it as “underhanded”. I don’t expect to be credited to clients for solving problems. When I was heading up systems analysis at the bank, for example, if I had to call a customer to explain the resolution of a problem I didn’t personally solve, I didn’t say “Mr. Johnson, my employee Joe discovered that the error in interest was in an outdated ruleset regarding interest calculations on overdue promotional balances, and he passed it over to Amy, one of our coders, who flagged the ruleset and transferred your account information to me, at which point I corrected the ruleset, returned the interest charged back to your account, and gave you an additional credit.”

Instead, I’d say “Mr. Johnson, I apologize for the error [this, despite the fact that I didn’t personally cause it]; we corrected the interest charged to your account, and we’ve provided you with a $50 courtesy credit for the inconvenience.” Why? Because Mr. Johnson doesn’t give a shit who did what, and he probably doesn’t even care what the problem was in the first place; he only wants to know if and how it was solved. I know — as the manager presumably knows in your situation — who deserves credit for their work on the problem. My somewhat imprecise pronoun usage does not indicate that I think I should get credit for work I didn’t do.

Now, if you work in an industry where external recognition of your personal efforts affects you — commission-based sales, say, where you want the client to talk to YOU — then I retract my comments. If this is the case, though, why would the manager be talking to your client instead of you?

We, the company. We, the technical department. We, not our one clever tech support worker, have found a solution, 'cause you, the end user, don’t give a shit about the inner workings of your situation as long as you get your fucking problem fixed. Unified whole. Sum of it parts, if you will.

It’s also used as an inclusive, as in we, you, me, in the same company. If you know, the company knows. Same as “we have control of our payment schedule” not “the dude at Economics has control of our payment schedule.”


I’d say it depends. I’d be willing to believe DudleyGarrett’s take on the situation, since he’s actually there and we’re :stuck_out_tongue: not.

I’ve seen this used in my organization to be inclusive or because the end-users don’t care who specifically did what. “We fixed this” where WE = my department or WE = the organization.

I’ve also seen it used when someone was flatly stealing credit for an internal issue. “We fixed this” where WE (to the people hearing the statement) = different department, when WE (in reality) = my department did the work.

I’ve also seen it used individually in similar circumstances. “We fixed this” where WE (to the people hearing the statement) = the guy making the statement plus some unknown others, when WE (in reality) = someone else entirely from the guy making the statement, who didn’t do jack.

I’m all good with the first usage.

I squash the second usage any time it’s possible. We (my dept) get blamed for all the problems caused by the system and by the users, whether or not it was under our control. We (my dept) get little or no credit when things go right. I’ll be gotohell if someone else should get blessed for our work.

On the other hand, my boss often says “we need to…” in meetings and discussions, immediately followed by “and by ‘we’, I mean ‘you’, redtail”. So there are some managers who get the difference. :cool:

We meant to reach out to you about that.

From the OP:

Later in the thread:

Is this second quote meaning that this person is trying to take the credit, or is this just an example of what you said in the OP?

If it’s just a matter of someone sounding like an idiot, as in someone used to working with children saying how are “we” doing?. . . . . as in how are we (little boys and girls) doing?. . . then that doesn’t seem to mean much.

But if someone is trying to take credit where credit is not due, that’s a different issue. In that case, you could diplomatically ask what the person really means without appearing belligerent to remind the person that they’re not the one doing the actual work. Perhaps if you said something like, if by "we, you meant the rest of my team members in my department, then no, I’m working on this individually. . . or words to that effect. It’s just a reminder to let them know that you’re aware that they’re trying to take the credit.

In either case, I suspect something else is bothering you about this circumstance because this hardly seems something to get upset about by itself.

It’s just a bit, “Now, have we all been to the bathroom yet?”, isn’t it?

Me, I hate it when my boss says, “Do you want to do<random task>?” I get away with saying no because (a) my boss likes me and (2) I do the random task anyway.

So for all the naysayers out there, why exactly do you suppose ambitious middle management types seem to be the ones insisting on “we” all the time? It’s more subtle than “haha, you fell into my ambiguous pronoun trap!” as was suggested earlier, but the implied credit usurpation (ha! spell checker found that word for me!) is still there.

It’s not underhanded, it’s condescending. It’s also fucking annoying. That’s the way asshole parents speak with children when they’ve done something wrong. On television.

It also gives the illusion that AMMT is of use in solving random problems that arise. If their only job in the “fix this fuck up!” chain is to ‘touch base’ and ‘reach out’ to the fuck upers and unfucking team, they know they are basically an email alert with a pulse.

Hi boss!!!

I didn’t get where I am today by going around saying “we” all the time.

Why yes, I have been watching The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin lately. Why do you ask?