Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Power Of Language In Business Success

The effective use of language brings true power. In business consulting, though, the necessity to be concise can throw things out of balance. It's important to understand the intricacies of language in order to achieve the highest level of success.

Have you ever noticed how need has become interchangeable with want? Do people require this, that and the other, or are those things what they would prefer? And does prefer mean that something is excluded if it does not fit neatly into that mold?

One of the things that I like about being a generalist is the broad spectrum of opportunities it provides. I don't focus on a given industry and I can work with people in any area of the business. Also, I am able to help start new companies, guide fixing established businesses who are having trouble and contribute to the growth of successful firms.

Working as I do provides a great deal of exposure to problems in the use of language. That leads to problems which then require developing solutions. All because what needs to be communicated is not done effectively.

Along with want/need and prefer/require there's a common misunderstanding about must have vs. would be nice.

In small businesses there are two problems that are very common.

The first is that the company owner strays from their core competency. They handle other areas of the business in which they do not hold adequate expertise instead of hiring qualified people to do those jobs. The result is that the company either suffers or fails.

The other problem is when the company owner hires other people to do the jobs, but is not capable of fully letting go of responsibility for those tasks. This, again, takes away from the owner's ability to focus on what got them into business in the first place.

In large companies, the people in the executive suite frequently do not know what the people on the front line are doing or do not understand what is involved in doing those jobs. They lose touch.

There are layers of management through which information must travel; interpretation of a given fact may change along the way or what is important to one person may be left out by someone further up the line. What is a priority to one person may be important to another, but not enough to share with the next person.

The result of ineffective use of language is nonproductive communication. The result of nonproductive communication is problems.

So, do you prefer or require? Do you want or do you need? Is this important or a priority?

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