Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Day 3037 - The Royal We

When "we" can sound better than "you"


You'll often hear people refer to "the royal we". It is a majestic plural (or pluralis majestatis) commonly used by The Queen to indicate that she's speaking on behalf of the collective body over which she reigns.

Which is why I use "the royal we" a lot.  Because as the queen, I too regularly speak on behalf of the collective body over which I reign. 



Note: The true definition of "the royal we" actually refers to the use of the word we when the speaker means I.  For example, "We are not amused" (Queen Victoria). 

The following blog post references my use of the word we when I actually mean you which is an inside joke. Calling it "the royal we" is another one of those flawed Aussie-isms.  


I actually didn't realise I used "the royal we" (yes, I will continue to put it in quotes because now I've started it I don't quite know how to stop) until I had a male flat mate back before I got married.  David was fresh out of school when he rented a room from me and he needed a little guidance on how best to live in a group house.

"We need to remember to fill the ice trays".

David was quite astute and he quickly pulled me up on it.  "By 'we' you actually mean 'me' don't you". 

Correct. 

I've been using my version of the "the royal we" fairly consistently ever since.  It's not a conscious thing. It seems that giving people a false sense of security believing we're doing stuff as a team when I'm really handing out jobs or pointing out their deficiencies comes naturally. 

"We need to mow the lawns this weekend." Can you please mow the lawn.

"Do you think we should wash the Jeep?"  Your car needs washing. 

"When shall we start your assignment?"  Don't fall behind in your schoolwork.

"Maybe we need to find a way to better hide all the electrical cords around the house".  It's messy under your desk.

"What do you think we should do with all that garden waste next to the fence?"  It's time for you to do a tip run. 

"We need to seal the bag before we put the cereal away otherwise it will go stale."  Stop leaving bags of food open. 

Last week after soccer I asked if anyone needed a lift to training this week because we would be happy to help out.  The hubster quickly pulled me up on it and asked if I was referring to "the royal we". Of course I was.  What I was actually saying was if anyone needed a lift to training this week, Coach Derek could help out.  Cue much laughter and head nodding as everyone acknowledged the regal pronoun. 

But all jokes and bad grammar aside, the use of the word "we" is actually a good team building technique.   As a leader, it's a great way to include oneself in the mix so it seems less like we're pointing the finger and more like we're all in this together.

It's a great way to build a sense of community and (funnily enough) make it feel less like we're lording it over people.

How often do you use "we" instead of "you" or "I"?

Is "the royal we" common in your house? 

Can the word "we" be more effective? 


8 comments :

  1. I'm a big fan of the "we" because as you so rightly point out, it sounds much more inclusive and so very team-buildy! Plus it makes me feel almost regal using something royal (even if I'm using it wrong!)

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  2. So funny. Going to pay attention this week and see if I do it much x

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  3. I so try to avoid it as well as my husband and I (grammatically correct but I am not the Queen). I am guessing "you" need to step away from the polite 'we' and give directions more specifically...but good luck with that too!

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  4. Hahaha, I love it- that is how a queen speaks!

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  5. I do use it every now and then but when I do it's not in the same inclusive, team-building way you do, I generally resort to it when I've run out of patience and I'm starting to get annoyed that my first dozen requests have been ignored. For me, I feel like it's very passive-aggressive and I'm not a fan when people do it to me, but that is perhaps because the only time I've had it used around me is as a form of passive-aggression.
    #teamIBOT

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  6. LOL I can't say I use we... but I will be listening out a little more to those around me.

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I love hearing your thoughts! Keep them rolling in :)

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