“A company where the staff consistently overuses the word ‘they,’” he says, “is a company with problems.” (Read his Open Forum post, “They” Have a Lot to Answer For)
I expressed the same sentiment in The Radical Leap. In the book, I wrote the following soapbox tirade as a dialogue between myself and a character named, Smitty. For it to make sense here on the blog and out of the context of the story, I’ve taken the conversation element out.
And you may want to hold on to your stomach:
We have to get over the whole idea of “them,” and we need to hold ourselves accountable and stop looking to blame “them” when things go wrong.
It’s universal: as sure as the sun will rise in the east, folks will end up blaming their woes on “them.” Managers blame their woes on “them,” the employees, and employees gripe about “them,” the management. Presidents and CEOs whine about “them,” the board, or “them,” the analysts, and we all moan about “them,” the shareholders. The conversation goes round and round like a Tilt-A-Whirl, and pretty soon you’re not sure who’s talking about whom.
Say, for example, you’re the management, and that you’ve just distributed another employee opinion survey. You ask “them” for their candid views on the company, but 70 percent of “them” don’t respond. So you complain about how unresponsive “they” are, and then you ignore the feedback of the other 30 percent.
“They,” consequently, start talking about “you,” or “them” as you’re known to “them,” and how “you,” or “they” as you are known to “them,” don’t really care about what “we,” or “they” as they’re known to “you,” have to say about “them,” or “you” as you’re known to yourself.
(Here comes lunch).
And where does it all end up? What’s the Big Conclusion?
“‘They’ will never change,” “they” say about “them.”
And it’s all an illusion, for one simple reason:
There ain’t no “they.”
There’s just us.