It is our ability to generate and understand language that makes us special. Our perception in society also determines our language. Of course, other forms of life such as animals also coordinate with each other, but this language is used more for mere information and is nowhere near as deep and complex as human language.
The current shooting star of the Green Party Robert Habeck said recently : “ How we speak decides who we are – also and especially in politics. “He even published a book on how language influences democracy. In his work he gives tips on how a “poetics of democratic speech encourages people to interfere”.
Language can also be an important tool in agile management to convince employees and to convey values. Let’s take that Negative example from Verena Bahlsen who said: “ That was before my time, and we paid the slave laborers the same as the Germans and treated them well “. This sentence triggered an absolute shit storm, although you never meant it by your own admission. Another one An example is from Volkswagen board member Herbert Diess : The saying “ EBIT sets you free “strongly reminded of a rather dark period in German history. According to its own statement, the board meant the tight profit targets.
Another example comes from Mr Dieter Zetsche, then a member of the Daimler Board of Management . He said: “ We believe that we have to be more agile with the uncertain developments of the future “. With this sentence he shows optimism and weakens agile populism with the word believe. Another example is from Dietmar Hopp, who talks about the wealth of managers said: “I have been so lucky to have got so much wealth. I didn’t find that fair for myself. You have to give a good part back to society.“With this quote he encourages other entrepreneurs to give something back.
Language as a management tool
Managers spend most of their working day communicating. According to Study by Mautner (2011) even 80% of the day. According to the study, the majority of your activities with routine planning, control and management tasks are inextricably linked with speaking, listening, reading and writing (Mautner 2011).
7 recommendations for action for managers
- Read the newspaper and see how it is worded there. You can learn from reputable newspapers.
- The answers have to fit the context. Do not quote facts out of context.
- Speak what you know about. If you want to talk about a new topic – talk to experts beforehand. Let them explain exactly how everything works and why it has to be exactly that way.
- Images should appear in the listener’s head according to your language. Pictures will not be forgotten anytime soon.
- Not recommended are judgmental adjectives: newest, best, unique, most effective … That always sounds like advertising.
- You make mistakes too: there are no perfect projects. You are welcome to say that there are also things that you are working on and that need to be achieved.
- Credibility is important and is promoted through concrete language and honesty. So don’t talk so smoothly but also like a normal person with style.
I believe, especially in agile organizations and virtual teams, that language in words and images is an important tool for conveying values and principles. The recommendations for action have shown how this can be achieved. I believe that in the future it will be more and more important to say less, but to think carefully and say the right thing. My final tips are: Just think about it before you communicate anything:
- Do I observe common diversity and gender rules?
- Do I use an open language?
- Do I avoid superlatives and devaluations?
- Do I Avoid Populism?
- Can I differentiate instead of generalize?
- Is my statement positive and optimistic?
- Can you get something wrong?
Of course there are still very important aspects that I cannot describe in the brevity of the blog article. One of them is, for example, the duration of the speech, i.e. the proportion of the conversation. Long-term monologists in particular never go down well. In addition to this aspect, there are many points that I will certainly explain in further blog articles.
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Gendernote: I have used the masculine form for ease of reading. Therefore, unless an explicit distinction is made, it always refers to women, diverse as well as men, and people of all origins and nations. Read more
Spelling: I translated my German Blog to English - so you can also read my Recommendations. Please be sorry if this English is not so good.
Image-Source Titlepicture: Fotolia.de 2016 – buyed License