With many years of experience in communications, a simple question that I heard someone ask on a news programme the other evening made me think. “Why do politicians seem to speak in a language that most of the public don’t understand?” It came on the back of a couple of weeks of intense media activity following recent party political conferences.
Over the years, I have heard employees in organisations ask a similar question about their leaders. “Why is there so much corporate speak and so many business acronyms?” My guilty secret is that I’ve joined the ‘corporate bingo’ game in meetings once or twice myself!
But so what? Is using a ‘challenging’ language really the cardinal sin people make out?
It’s easy to beat people up for the language they use, but if those around them are using similar language, information can be exchanged effectively. Our challenge is to develop the capability to understand the language that others are using, allowing us to make a connection and enter into their world. That’s when the real impact is made and a relationship can be developed.
Nelson Mandela famously said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Our challenge to you is to take a few minutes to reflect on the world you are creating through the language you use. How do you adapt it when talking to friends, family and colleagues and your manager? We would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.