Bauschwhacked! The Anatomy of a Recall
Armstrong's point is that to make a letter believable, you have to feel the presence of the writer. Using "we," "us" and "our" indicates that the writer is hiding behind a bureaucracy and is not really in charge.
"We" do not write letters.
"I" write letters.
A good friend of mine many years ago was a hale-fellow-well-met Scot named Ian MacKenzie, president of St. Martin's Press. I mentioned to Ian that I was in the midst of writing a novel about the Mafia running a candidate for mayor of New York and that my protagonist's favorite poet was Rudyard Kipling.
"Ah, Kipling" Ian exclaimed and hoisted a glass of whiskey to the memory of the late bard. "Say 'we,' 'us' and 'ours' when you're talking instead of 'you fellows' and 'I.'"
He quoted several other favorite lines, but that one stuck in my mind.
It is part of the last stanza of "Norman and Saxon," a dramatic monologue by a Norman king on his death bed who tells his son and heir how to govern the difficult Saxons.
It is imperative to make them look up to you, respect you, revere you, he counsels. A ruler cannot be buddy-buddy with his subjects.
"Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
Say 'we,' 'us' and 'ours' when you're talking instead of 'you fellows' and 'I.'
Don't ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell 'em a lie!"
"We," "us" and "ours" sets the speaker apart from the listener or reader. It is used when speaking ex cathedra or making public pronouncements in behalf of the government.
When intimate communications are called for, using "we," "us" and "ours" is cold and impersonal, rendering the speaker or writer faceless and, ultimately, weak.