There’s something that’s been niggling at me for ages. The way people act as if they’re a multi-person company when they’re really just one individual. This whole ‘we’ syndrome.
We have a great new client now working with us at Just Little Old Me Ltd.
Sometimes it makes me giggle when I know somebody is an individual ‘me’ and they’re saying ‘we’ as if they’re some kind of medieval queen. I just can’t help feeling it’s a little bit deceptive to act in this way.
I can see there’s a couple of reasons why people feel the need to pretend to be bigger than they really are:
- It makes them look big and official to others, making them look more trustworthy. That company won’t run away with my money, but that single cowboy there might do.
- It seems to give them some kind of prestige over that teenage kid working in his bedroom. Oh, it’s not just a student, they’re a proper company.
But really, why do we do this?
The web is still young, and it’s incredibly difficult to tell the hardworking souls from the shady characters. If most of your communication is web-based, without meeting face-to-face or even speaking on the phone, it’s hard for a client to pick up on those gut instincts and little signs that tells you somebody can’t be trusted.
We’ve come to inherently trust bigger companies. People will eat in a chain restaurant because they know what to expect. Companies made up of multiple people appear to be more stable because there’s more people to get the work done.
I can understand why it looks good to be big company.
It’s just being deceptive
What I really don’t understand about people who create this façade of a multiple person company is that they’re losing all the benefits of appearing to be trustworthy and stable. If you’re lying (however well-intended that lie is,) you’re no-longer credible. I have an immediate distrust of anybody who claims who says ‘we’ when they’re really just a ‘me’ as I wonder what other truths they’re bending.
Saying ‘we’ and talking as a company and not an individual also makes you seem detached. Is your company persona all that different from your individual persona? If it is, then why? Why do you have to pretend to be a different person to do business?
It’s really not all that bad being a ‘me’
I’m Laura Kalbag, I’m a sole trader and my company is called ‘Laura Kalbag’. What you see really is what you get. Sometimes I sense a lack of trust in me because I’m not an agency or a big company. You know what, I don’t care. I’d rather not work with somebody who suspects I might not be reliable. If we’re starting out with some big fat negative preconceptions, it’s going to be harder to get positive feelings from that person.
As an individual, people can be assured that:
- I’m the one doing all the work. They will talk to me and I will execute the designs, development etc all based on our direct conversation. There’s less room for misinterpretation if there’s only one link in the chain.
- I’m as vulnerable as them. Weakness isn’t always negative. I’ve got to directly make money to have food and shelter, so have my clients. It’s much more personal when you’re not throwing somebody else’s money around.
- I don’t have to check that what I’m saying is the right thing on behalf of my company and/or employer. Ditch all the legalese, I’m talking to you man-to-man (or girl-to-man or girl-to-girl, you see what I mean!)
I feel like I’m good enough
There’s upsides and downsides to hiring a freelancer or an agency but the important thing is that I’m happy with what I am. If you’ve got no confidence in yourself as an individual freelancer, then go find yourself some like-minds and form an agency!
It’s not arrogance to say I feel like I’m good enough to speak as myself. I’ve got as many insecurities as the next person but I enjoy being a human, friendly face in a sea of (often) faceless companies.
So next time you’re thinking of saying ‘we’ when you just mean ‘me’, think about how much that little word means. I think it’d be better if everybody was a little bit more honest.