Communication Skills

JS Tip 233: From the Writing Workshops: I or We?

Jasen Larue of WesTech Engineering asked—

When I write to a customer, should I use I or We? For example—

“We appreciate your order.”

or

“I appreciate your order.”

Another example—

“Send us a picture so we can offer a solution.”

or

“Send me a picture so I can offer a solution.”

Which is proper? Formal by using we? Or personal by using I?

Our Response

It’s not a question of formal or informal; it’s a question of who’s involved.

If you’re speaking for the group, because the group is grateful for the order, say “we.”

If you’re speaking for yourself, as you are going to solve the problem, say “I”: “Send me a picture of the problem so I can offer a solution.” Use “me” and “I” because you’re the person doing the work.

For example—

“I’ve enclosed the plans.”

“We” would sound goofy because the visual is of six people stuffing an envelope. You’re the only one who put the plans in the envelope. 

“We’ll consider your offer and get back to you.”

It’s a group effort. You’re going to show the offer to your boss and your team and get their opinion. 

“I reviewed your procedures. I have one suggestion.”

You—alone—reviewed the procedure and came up with a multi-million dollar suggestion.  

“We reviewed your procedures. We have one suggestion.”

You shared the procedures with your team. It was a group consult. Together, you (the plural “you”) came up with the million-dollar suggestion. 

If you have questions, let us know. We’ll try to help because we love this stuff.