We don’t always think a whole lot about the words we use at work, and since we mean well, this usually isn’t a problem. But sometimes we lean on a term or phrase that seems innocuous, but isn’t really productive or good for our company culture.
One term that’s been embedded in the American lexicon for a long time is “you guys.” It’s so frequently and casually used that most of us don’t think twice about it, but there are some good reasons why your company should do away with this colloquialism. Let’s have a look at ”you guys,” why it should go, and what to say instead.
“You guys” disconnects your teams.
Although the overall objective of your company is broken down into smaller, manageable goals which are assigned to your various teams, your company should still function, and your people should think of it, as a consolidated unit. This means that you need a company culture that unifies your teams and various levels of management.
Usually, “you guys” is uttered by the managerial staff in reference to their employees or teams. It’s subtle, but this creates an unhealthy separation between the different levels of authority. Rather than creating a sense of teamwork, saying “you guys” creates an “us against them” vibe where your employees feel as though they need to struggle against the company overhead rather than viewing you and your managers as members of the team who simply have different responsibilities and areas of expertise.
Dropping “you guys” helps create a perception that is much closer to the truth because, in actuality, you, your managers, and your teams all have the same common goal, even if the people further down the ladder don’t have the same birds-eye-view of the situation.
“You guys” alienates women.
This point isn’t mentioned second because it’s less important. This is an important reason to show “you guys” the door.
Although the women in your company may understand that you don’t intend to disregard them when you say “you guys,” that doesn’t mean that it’s not an alienating term for them. Specificity is necessary in some situations, but “you guys” usually isn’t used to clarify who you’re talking about, and isn’t particularly sufficient for this purpose if you are clarifying your intended audience.
So, at best, “you guys” doesn’t add value or remove it from a conversation, and at worst, makes the women in your company feel excluded. Therefore, you probably won’t miss “you guys” when it goes.
By now, you’ve probably already tried out a few alternatives in your head, and are waiting for me to drop the other shoe. So, here’s what to replace “you guys” with:
“We” is better than “you guys.”
“We” is a more inclusive term that doesn’t imply any separation between teams or levels of management, and it doesn’t leave anybody out. Additionally, “we” creates a feeling of unification and acts as a subtle, consistent reminder that everybody in your company is on the same team and has a shared ultimate goal. It’s a small detail, but attention to detail will help you fine tune your company culture, and address small things that could become problems if they go untended.
As a bonus, “we” is one syllable shorter than “you guys,” so think of all the time you’ll save by tossing “you guys” out and bringing “we” in!
So, start with yourself. Just stop saying “you guys” and instead say, “we” whenever the opportunity arises. Once you’ve been on the “we” train for a few weeks, let your managers know what you’ve been doing so they can get on board. Then, watch your employees pick it up from the overhead, and at some point you can just send out a company email letting your teams know that you’ve noticed how they’ve really come together and how impressed you are that they’ve even starting talking like a really unified team, and that you think it’s a great idea to continue with this and just do away with “you guys” altogether.
So we’re going to start working without “you guys” as of now. Share and send some more ideas of how we can replace “you guys!”