Issue No. 2

May 30, 2013

Language matters

How often do you hear, “that wasn’t my intent”? We spend a great deal of time explaining what we meant or asking others what they meant. That is, if we are lucky.

Frequently, we make assumptions about meaning. Now, please don’t leap to the oft-repeated belief that only 6% of communication is verbal, the rest non-verbal. That finding is wrongly cited and generalized. See what I mean? Barely four sentences in and I’m explaining and anticipating.

If you are leading a project, initiative, team, region, function or company, you need to be mindful of your language and to understand what things mean in the context in which you are operating.

Below is a list of words and phrases I have seen used that some think are fine, others find irritating and even threatening.

  • Change management – usually meant that others will change
  • Audit – find out if you are truthful or not
  • Urgency – you are moving too slowly
  • Behavior modification – you are damaged
  • Process review – group boredom
  • Post-mortem – figure out who messed up
  • Time studies – figure out who is too slow
  • Educate – we know something, you don’t

During a time of transition, regardless of the reason, people feel uncertain. Don’t add to their fears by being transactional or high-handed. Think.

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© Constance Dierickx 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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