2nd singular or plural person at work?

C’est comme »vous» voulez…

In everyday life in Quebec, vouvoyer is used in certain situations which involve a person who is less familiar to us, older, or quite simply with whom we would like to keep a certain distance. However, when you are in contact, you come to encourage the interlocutor to avoid the barrier of formality.

In a business, it is not easy to navigate. How to know which pronoun to use in a professional environment? Many employees prefer to stick to "you" by default, rather than "you", to make sure they stay in the "safe" zone. Some leaders want to be familiar with you from the start in order to facilitate the fluidity of communication. Others do not want to destabilize authority and avoid familiarity by using the second person plural with colleagues. But what does the pronoun really mean when it comes to hierarchy in a company?

Vouvoyer shows a desire for politeness and formality. It also indicates a form of social hierarchy and, by default, imposed respect. Vouvoiement avoids reciprocity to prevent disrespectful situations from arising. The pronoun "you" can be used by default when you don't know what your interlocutor wants and you don't want to rush them. If he is a manager, then it is up to him to use the pronoun he wants to display. If an employee has just been hired, then it is better to wait for some sign or simply ask co-workers which pronoun to use towards managers.

Being on first-name terms marks a certain familiarity in a conversation. It establishes a more relaxed communication and makes the professional relationship more human. Today, however, companies seem to be inclined to encourage a certain closeness between employers and managers. Normally, it is more natural that it is the superior who initiates the request to be placed on familiar terms. Indeed, given the authority he or she holds in the social hierarchy, the image he or she will reflect will be the image that will be conveyed. In this case, by posting the request to be placed on familiarization, the employees will take the lead in a certain level of comfort by conversing.

In the end, as long as the second person pronoun suits both parties and respect remains mutual, there is no wrong choice between singular and plural. If the use of familiarization is a matter of course in the organization and everyone is familiar with each other, then it would be highly preferable to follow the group and use familiarization among colleagues. In the event that you seem obvious in the company, there is nothing to prevent you from proposing to be on first-name terms if that is what you prefer. The fact remains that respect is present, whether you are being friendly or on a first-name basis, it all depends on what you want to imply.

By Jolly Sabbagh

Picture front page mariebarreno.wordpress.com

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