A couple of months ago I was at my consultant's group meeting and I brought up a question I'd always had issue with.

I'm an independent consultant. In my marketing materials, I often vacillate between using "I" or "we". Most sales studies you do state using "we" without telling you why, and I felt it was disingenuous because obviously I'm just me. So I threw the question out to the group to see what they thought.

The discussion was very good, which it often is, and it turned out that at least half the room had the same feelings I did. It's particularly difficult to comprehend when our businesses are in our name.

What we all eventually came to, via one consultant's thoughts in particular, is that the use of "we" is fine because all of us at one time or another will work with someone else on projects, and always has someone else's name in reserve. As I thought about that for my business I realized how true it was. When I do my webinars I do them with someone else because she has the software to do it. When I go on a consulting assignment if I discover the client has needs that either I can't do or I can't do in conjunction with what I'm presently doing, I know other people I can recommend to the client to call and ask about their services. I even do the same with other consultants, either as backup or as a referral because it's something they don't do but know I can do it.

So, if the concept of "we" works for independent consultants, then why does it seem that, often in business offices, the concept of "we" isn't an everyday thing? In other words it's "you failed" or "I did this", but it's rarely "look at what we accomplished" or "we really missed the boat on that one."

Actually, I know the answer to this one. It's because all of us are afraid to fail, and thus we try to find reasons why it has nothing to do with us. Sometimes that's true, but I've noticed that when that's expressed to upper management, they don't want to hear it. Instead, they want to only blame the person they're talking about, which is you. That might be unfair, but it also gives you great opportunities to do great things.

For instance, it gives you the right to get the opinions of others, making them understand that it's on them as much as you whether something works or not, so they might as well contribute. People are held accountable whether they help, as in give their opinion, as opposed to not saying anything at all. Waffling used to work better than it does now in the age of downsizing. Employers want people who are proactive and prove they know what they're doing, rather than just assuming someone know what they're doing.

Of course, "we" also becomes "our" and "us" where needed, but there's nothing wrong with that either. Being inclusive never hurts, and in a large office can only help.

Let's see if it helps with advertising and marketing as well.