If you had to eliminate a dangerous and counter-productive word that’s commonly uttered in the workplace, what would it be? To be sure, there are scores of great dictionary candidates worthy of the delete key. My choice would be the word “they.”
Why “they” … why is it problematic? Two reasons! First, it can be symptomatic of US vs. THEM mindsets – thoughts and beliefs that divide organizations rather than uniting them. Second, and even more importantly, “they” far too often is a telltale indicator of passing the buck. And that’s a behavior that can be the eventual downfall of any team or organization. Not good!
Certainly, none of us have the power to actually erase a word from our language. But we can erase it from our vocabularies … and encourage others to do the same.
Ever wonder who they are? They seem to be everywhere. They must be a big and powerful group with a great deal of influence, because we sure do talk about them a lot:
“They should know better!”No need to ask if these sound familiar. Who among us hasn’t pointed a finger at them before? “They” and “them” are common pronouns ... part of normal, everyday speech. And when it comes to doing our jobs and walking the talk, they may be the absolute worst words in our language. Why? Just look at what “they” and “them” mean: OTHER PEOPLE, SOMEONE ELSE. You don’t have to be a genius to know that those words are dripping with non-responsibility.
“That’s their problem!”
“They need to do something about this!”
“It’s all because of them!”
“They’re the ones who fouled things up!”
Maybe it’s time we all did some word switching. Imagine what would happen – think of how our perspectives might change – if we stopped using “they,” “them,” and “their” altogether, and instead used “we,” “us,” and “our.” Let’s see …
“They We need to do something about this!”See and feel the difference? The next time you catch yourself starting to say or think the T-word (“they”), use “we” instead. The first step in taking responsibility is acknowledging that WE have it.
“That’s their our problem!”
“It’s up to them us!”
“They We need to walk the talk.”
You know, pointing the finger at them probably is a waste of time anyway. We’re beginning to think they don’t exist. Every time we’ve gone looking for them, all we’ve found is US!
The Kid said...
Makes a lot of sense! If only we could change :)