Elevate One-On-Ones to Power Moments

Saying “we” is weaker than saying “you” during one-on-ones.

Don’t say “we” when you mean “you”. It might feel like good manners to say “we”, but it’s disingenuous. It might soften the blow, but it borders on deceit.

I always hated it when a leader said “we” when they actually wanted me to do something. What could “we” do about that, is manipulative, unless you are prepared to be involved.

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When you want others to take personal ownership, say “you” not “we”. Reserve “we” for topics that include several people, including yourself. 

“We” gives the impression others are responsible. Ownership is an individual matter before it’s the team’s.


The term “you” is especially relevant during one-on-ones and coaching sessions. But, don’t use “you” to pressure people. Strong leaders don’t need to be coercive.

4 guidelines for one-on-one locations:

Choose a location for one-on-ones that minimizes disparities in position and status. Don’t sit in your office. Find environments that are:

  1. Neutral.
  2. Comfortable.
  3. Semi-private.
  4. Off site when possible.

7 ways to enhance one-on-one dynamics:

  1. Give power seats to your conversation partner.
  2. Sit with an open posture.
  3. Relax and smile.
  4. Speak less and listen more. The one with the most power speaks the most. Let others speak more to elevate their power.
  5. Explain yourself. Don’t allow others to speculate about your thoughts and attitudes.
  6. Avoid judgement – embrace exploration. Judgement causes people to lift protective barriers.
  7. Resist your inclination to give answers and offer solutions. Place power and responsibility in their court by exploring answers and solutions “with” not “for”.

One-on-ones are powerful opportunities for people to explore their passion and move toward meaningful contribution. Give power, don’t seize it. Release, don’t control. Timid people don’t dare to take action. 

Power makes people bold.

What tips enhance the effectiveness of one-on-ones?

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