Redefining the “Royal We”

The "royal we" has a questionable reputation. According to The American Heritage College Dictionary, it means "the pronoun used by a sovereign . . . to refer to himself or herself."

I’d like to present a new definition of the self-absorbed we. I propose that it means, in contrast, "the pronoun managers use to build and support a team."

Examples of the newly crowned we:

Coaching an employee to improve performance, the manager says, "When we handle these complaints with diplomacy, we gain good will throughout the community." This we is much more powerful than the isolating you.

Thanking an employee, the manager writes, "Thank you for getting the reports out so fast. Because of your speed and accuracy, we can all move ahead on the project faster." This we shows the employee how significant his or her efforts are.

Referring to the members of the department, the manager writes, "We [not my staff] will handle all the details for you." This we tells the reader that the manager is involved and accountable.

If you are a manager, go ahead: Speak and write as the "royal we." You–that’s all of you in your group or department–will gain in influence and ability.