December 26, 2014

“Employee” and other words that make me cringe


Last month Forbes published, Why Ryan Hoover’s Product Hunt Is More Addictive Than Hacker News. It was a great article but the title made me squirm[1]. I’m just one part of Product Hunt — my teammates and our investors deserve equal credit. It’s important to me that the entire team feels appreciated and realizes they too are responsible for its success (or failure).

I can’t control how people describe Product Hunt in the press and to their friends, but the subtleties of my words can influence public opinion.

Here are some words and phrases that make me cringe and alternatives I use:

  • “Employees” —> “Teammates”
  • “Work for me” —> “Work with me”
  • “My team” —> “Our team”

I urge other founders to be cognizant of how they speak to and about their team. It may seem insignificant but diction plays an important role in people’s perception of your character, and in reality, it’s often a true reflection of how one thinks.

[1] To be clear, I have nothing against the author, and I truly appreciate Anthony’s unique perspective on Product Hunt.

More Writing by Ryan