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Language, communication and engagement

We witness in our day-to-day how simple sentences make great differences in people’s lives. Here is an example for you to mull over. In a project supporting gender equality, the general manager speaking on the opportunities provided to women says: “We gave women this opportunity and were shocked to see that they apparently can succeed at everything!”

Now, is this a compliment or an insult?

What do you mean? What are you shocked by? Clearly, you invested in your project without believing in its success. Your language is expressing what is in your head and I think you should have gone over this speech with a good communicator before you made it.

The language you use in the company

Some employees express that their superiors can behave and even talk in a very rude and brusque manner. Honestly, I’m going to skip this matter at hand continue on to discuss the language you use under normal circumstances —like normal people and normal executives— because I cannot even tolerate the possibility of rudeness in the workplace.

We always try to remind and underline the importance of good communication with the employees. At which point can an employee connect themselves to the company if they are learning of a strategic decision or an event that can be seen as a turning point for their company by reading it in the newspaper? If they cannot connect to the events and the company, how can we talk about engagement?

As long as we do not regard the employees as our closest shareholders and act accordingly in daily life, we don’t stand a chance.

The employees must know first. They must know about it at the exact moment the project is completed —in fact, at the moment it is begun. If you have set a strategy, your switchboard operator will be notified of it. Did the general manager saying “we have decided to withdraw from the urological medicine area” in their speech declare this to the public before doing so to their urology department sales representatives?

What must the sales representatives have felt at that moment?

Let’s also look at a more positive example. A father announcing to everyone in his household at home that he is creating the largest solar power plant in the world looks over at his son later when they watch the same announcement on the news, saying with that look —See, I told you so. You learned this before everyone else. This is pride, it is the strength of sharing.

Establishing communication and language

Let’s focus on the messages circulating inside the company. There are some messages that you can be fooled to think they were written by an artificial intelligence system. “Hey Siri, what is my executive saying to me today?” “Hello, from now on you can come to work out of uniform on Fridays. Thus, it is requested that you refer to the company dress code.”

Siri can say it this way. Because it has data and that data allows it to answer to what is asked of it in the most correct fashion. It has no emotion. Besides, even Siri is renewing itself. Try saying “I love you” or “You are so successful” to it, look at what she will respond. Shall we try?

“Siri, you are so successful, thank you.”

Answer: Of course, do not mention it.

“I’m so glad I have you Siri.”

Answer: You are very kind.

Establish a sincere team language in the company. If you are goin to be applying a Free Friday from now on, do not announce it like a public institution but by using this sincere language. Because, the people to use this language and to read it are the team anyway.

“We have fresh, good news fitting these days of summer heat!”

How is this?

Is it too casual for you? Make your own language. Add some salt, some spice. Maybe heat is up a bit but not too much. You will find a language fitting to your culture and atmosphere.

After establishing this language, of course you must use it. Use it in abundance. The cogwheels of inside communication must keep turning like clockwork and everyone will first connect to each other, then to the company. This is how engagement starts.

There are really good and really bad examples of language and communication. Let’s share these from time to time. If we are setting our bar high for institutional improvement, let’s start with the tone of what we say to each other.

Because, the most important shareholders are the employees.