Any organisation will have a language of its own.
Now – here’s the problem:
There will be people in any organisation who just don’t know, understand or recognize this Corporate Language and are therefore at a disadvantage. They also have potential to unintentionally disadvantage others, as well as the organisation.
To summarize, Corporate Language:
- is separate and different from linguistic differences
- exists in any cultural, social, commercial, community, educational and political context,
- has little to do with educational levels or qualifications,
- is put to effective, ineffective, destructive or no use on a daily basis throughout the organisation,
- has no origin or originator,
- is rarely owned or managed by anyone in a position of authority,
- is rarely identified as a major contributor to risk management and quality assurance, and
- is rarely subjected to cost analysis.
Corporate language is created almost on a daily basis through informal conversation, meetings, minutes, reports, technology, documentation – and idle chatter.
What to do about it?
- handle it seriously and with respect – as it has potential to be both a tool and a weapon,
- arrange for a person with authority to be responsible it,
- allocate a budget to design and develop an internal glossary of terms – you may wish to call it an internal dictionary,
- invite anyone to submit entries – which must pass the entry test of clarity, alignment with corporate values, common use and frequency,
- pay particular attention to the use of acronyms – which can too easily enter and even take over as ‘corporate lingo’ rather than ‘corporate language’,
- clearly define key terms in common use – eg cost, price, value, margin, capacity, capability, effectiveness, efficiency, performance,
- include this living document in the intranet, and
- make this living document a feature in the orientation and induction of new people at any and every level of activity within the organisation.
Measurable outcomes of this initiative should include:
- Corporate Language is lifted from the obscure to the obvious,
- an increase in person-to-person conversation as opposed to technological messages,
- more effective communication and expression,
- improvement in corporate documents,
- contribution to risk management and quality assurance, and
- contribution to the orientation and induction procedure.
The following segment was added 4th November 2012:
Jean’s Definition of Effective Communication
Communication is the passing of messages, information, ideas, attitudes, feelings, fears, doubts, news, emotions, etc -
- to and from one person to another person
- to and from one person to a group
- to and from one group to another group
It involves listening, questioning, explaining, clarifying, encouraging, facilitating, challenging, convincing, verifying, comforting and supporting.
Messages can be conveyed or passed in writing, in conversation, by behaviour, by attitude, through personal values and preferences or by silence.
Communication is also the transmission of data from one machine to another:
However, communicating through technology requires exactly the same degree of care as any other form of communication in order to be effective.
Effective communication is the passing of the right message or information:
- to the right person,
- in the right way,
- at the right time, and
- with the right effect, impact and outcome.
A note of caution:
- responsibility for effective communication always rests with the sender – not the recipient.
Why is face-to-face communication still – and ever – the most effective?
These three basic factors in face-to-face communication carry the following percentages of impact in terms of effectiveness:
- words 7% of impact
- tone of voice 38% of impact
- body language 55% of impact
Therefore listening, questioning, explaining, clarifying, encouraging, facilitating, challenging, convincing, verifying, comforting and supporting must include the right words, the right tone of voice, and the right body language. Otherwise, chances of effectively communicating with another person or group of people are slim.
For instance, a request can be expertly analysed and prepared. However, if the request is not effectively communicated to a person or group, then the desired result will not – and cannot – be achieved.
A further note of caution:
Communication through technology relies only on words, with only 7% chance of effectiveness! Therefore great care is needed in selecting words that:
- convey the desired message,
- are appropriate to the desired recipient/s, and
- clearly indicate the ‘next action’, ie the desired response, action or impact.
Effective communication can prevent:
- misinterpretation or misunderstanding,
- problems, mistakes – even disasters,
- unwise decisions, and
- misuse or abuse of authority.