3 minutes

Do you speak-a my language?

by Julie Perkins

Language can be about inclusivity and belonging. But it can also easily be misinterpreted. In business, as in life, that can be damaging. 

“You like po-tay-to. I like po-tah-to. Let’s call the whole thing off.” I can hear Fred Astaire and Ginger Roberts singing the words in my head. Words that perfectly encapsulate that we often hear the same language, differently. Interpretation can depend on cultures, accents, moods and so on. 

In fact, culturally across the world, simple signs such as ‘OK’ mean very different things. Be warned – in Brazil, the thumb and index finger signal of OK that’s accepted elsewhere is incredibly offensive. This type of nuance is echoed in the world of business. And has repercussions for your business as it grows.

The business of communication

In the beginning was an idea, a spark. The language of your new company revolved around customers, performance, targets – all imbued with an excitement that your passion project had come to fruition. Speaking about it came naturally. After all you were the company, and the company was you.

And yet, as your company grows and you interact with more and more people each day, the success of your communication will depend on the type of language you speak – and more importantly, whether others understand it. It will play an increasingly prominent role in how you are interpreted by others. Significantly, those ‘others’ could be investors, partners, new customers, third party agencies, talent you want to hire; the list goes on. 

A sense of belonging

And this is where I would argue that your language must evolve with your business growth. It needs to be more considered. More deliberated. After all, you don’t want people that are invested in your business (and I don’t just mean investors) to ‘call the whole thing off’.

Learning a language – be it Spanish or French – is often about wanting to belong and feel more accepted. When you visit that country, you want to communicate well with those around you, so you’re less of an outsider. You want to fit in and learn more than you would if you were on the periphery. Sharing cultures and understandings. Less vive la difference and more – do you speak-a my language? The same can be said for business language.

Your own dictionary

As a business owner, you most likely use entrepreneurial words, descriptions – and meanings. This makes you feel like you belong in this space. And it allows others to see your place in it. But, as your venture grows, you need to learn a different language; one that ensures the people you bring on your journey feel included and like they belong. 

But, where to start? Understanding your purpose plays a huge role in this. It’s then up to you to translate your purpose to others. In this way, you’re speaking the same lingo, on a common journey – with shared values, passions and ambitions.

After that, a glossary of terms – like a dictionary for your company – certainly helps everyone be on the same page, feel part of your conversation and able to join in.

WTF?

On that note, as we like to practise what we preach, we are introducing a new WTF series that does exactly this. We will introduce you to some important Wyseminds terms and explain their value. This way you’ll truly become part of our community and belong – as we grow your company purposefully, together.

First up in our WTF series:

Find out more about the importance of these growth terms and perhaps it will inspire you to discover more.