There’s a part of me that dies inside when I hear cliches. Business ideas described as a ‘gap in the market’ (seriously?), managers who talk about ‘going forward’ (it’s quite difficult to go backwards), or ‘blue skies thinking’ (translated = I have no idea how to solve this problem). Cliches are overused expressions which lack originality of thought and clarity of intent. I’d rather spend time cleaning the oven (that maybe an exaggeration) but would definitely prefer listening to songs on National Radio over listening to cliche ridden speeches.
The point is that language matters. Sure, not everyone gets riled over cliches but I expect most of us have a reaction to words, phrases or expressions that irk us.
The words we choose help to illustrate our values, beliefs and culture to others. Think about the following words and the mental picture that forms in your mind when you hear them.
- sweet as
If I surveyed you all, there would as many differing responses as what you had for breakfast this morning. And there in lies the problem with language. There aren’t many people who arrive at work in the morning thinking “who can I annoy at work today?” and yet how many people would respond positively to the statement “who came to work last week and was annoyed by someone in the workplace?”
Need more food for thought?
Choosing your Words
Being deliberate in your language can help. We know that inclusive language, for example, helps people to feel valued and respected at work and is a powerful tool for communication and productivity in the workplace. Put simply, inclusive language is effective language which is respectful, accurate and relevant.
- Respectful: knowing about and showing respect for others in the team and workplace
- Accurate: reflects social diversity rather than perpetuating stereotypes. It avoids making assumptions based on age, culture, disability, gender, sexual orientation and gender.
- Relevant: to feel included, we need to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ ourselves reflected in the language we use at work.
Paying attention to the language you use is the first step. Having the courage to call it when you hear others using language which excludes others helps to change the culture and make a difference. Download this guide for more tips.
Herrmann Whole Brain Thinking
Herrmann Whole Brain Thinking helps to build a common language at work. Using colours to describe difference helps to take the heat out of difficult conversations. Selecting language to appeal to each of the thinking preferences is a powerful tool to get others on side. Here’s some terms to remind you: