The Law of Speaking for Yourself

September 1, 2021
two webfoot coworkers in front of a webfoot truck

Webfoot is on a journey to becoming the best team. Step one? We’re becoming ninjas of communication. This week, we’re all about applying a lesson we learned from Eric Coryell, author of Revolutionize Teamwork: How to Create and Lead Accountable Teams. We’re practicing The Law of Speaking for Yourself.  

At its core, The Law of Speaking for Yourself is about becoming super direct. Here are the rules:

  1. No asking questions without preceding statements; and
  2. No using group pronouns.

Why no asking questions?

If you take a zoomed-in look at how your brain forms questions, you’ll notice that you’re thinking in statements. You’re thinking “I don’t know…” or “I feel confused by…” or something to that effect. When you ask a question without first stating those thoughts, you’re not providing any of that context to the listener. Instead, you’re leaving the question’s intent open for interpretation. Making a clarifying statement before a question eliminates the listener’s responsibility to interpret. As a result, you’ve got clear communication.

Why no using group pronouns?

Group pronouns are seen as a fast-track to establishing community. They’re used often in the office to imply team agreement. People say things like: “No one likes the raffle prizes,” and “We all feel that you could improve your email etiquette,” and so on. However, statements like this are often speaking for the group without having spoken to the group. Eliminating group pronouns and expressing yourself in the first person takes ownership of your thoughts, and allows space for others to do the same. When you say, “I don’t like the raffle prizes,” then someone else has the chance to say, “I don’t like them either.” As a result, you’ve created avenues of more direct communication by speaking for yourself.

A journey to accountable teams

Webfoot loves having a seriously great team and we’re happy to put in the work to stay that way. If you like The Law of Speaking for Yourself, we suggest you also say “No way!” to pairing — we did!

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