Be Seen. Be Heard.
Language barriers are a common challenge in business settings. What native speakers often don’t realize is that frequently it is not the other person’s accent but their own way of speaking that creates the greatest barriers to effective communication.
Let’s be honest. All of us at some point or another have used words and phrases that are unclear or meaningless. And we’re not even aware that we’re doing it. Sometimes we do it deliberately, to obscure our meaning, to avoid making a definite commitment, or cover up an excuse. When it comes to communicating, it’s always better to use language that is clear, accurate and one that everyone understands. In other words, when talking to clients and customers, speak in simple, plain English! It will get you far.
Buzzwords or Buzz Kill?
Business buzzwords can be a real hazard if you are dealing with others who are not in the same line of work. If you find yourself using phrases like bottom line or deliverables, stop for a moment and think about what you’re actually saying. Terms like these are so over-used to the point of being meaningless. They all have clear, plain English alternatives. A lot of phrases are unnecessary and can be removed entirely from sentences without losing its meaning.
Of course there are times when you need to use technical language. Businesses are not only different, they can be diverse, and each has its own terminology. Taking the time to learn the terms that are relevant to your business can help to facilitate informed conversations with your customers and clients. For example, if you’re having a conversation about medical technology or a chat with your web designer, it’s worth having an understanding of specific technical terms that relate to the activity. If you’re promoting your business online, you’ll need to know what SEO (search engine optimization) means and how it can benefit you. Technical terms used precisely are very different from buzzwords. Don’t use language that you don’t understand and don’t pretend to understand things that you don’t. Communication is all about clarity and success in business is about meeting other people’s needs, or having your own needs met. If you’re unfamiliar with a term, ask what it means. When your web designer starts talking about ‘HTML or XML’, don’t blink and shy away from asking for an explanation.
Not knowing what a word means doesn’t make you stupid; it just means that you’re unfamiliar. One important point to remember – don’t use technical language to impress – it can lead to confusion and create misunderstandings that you don’t need in business!
Use Assertive Language
Assertive language conveys a positive impression to listeners. Being assertive doesn’t mean being bossy; it simply means expressing your needs clearly and directly. Assertive language can help you to maintain control of your situation and tell others that you know what you want. For example: ‘I like’ or ‘I want” or “I need”.
Each conveys an increasing degree of urgency and the listener will pick up on this and prioritize accordingly. ‘Like’, ‘want’ and ‘need’ are powerful words and it’s important not to confuse them – so don’t say ‘I would like’ when really you ‘need’ or the listener won’t respond with urgency. Likewise, don’t say ‘I need’ for trivial or non-urgent requests or people will stop making a distinction between the levels of requirement.
Think about the positivity of the language you are using when you speak to customers and suppliers. The simple substitution of one word (‘when’) for another (‘if’) can make a big difference to the impact of your message.
Tips for clear and positive communication:
1. Think about whom you’re talking to, their level of knowledge and what they need to know from you.
2. Be clear and use simple English – avoid meaningless jargon and unnecessary phrases.
Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia