It is a problem when we are not understood by others.

Our vocabulary is unique to us. Even common words have a meaning which is special to each individual as they are shaped and formed by that individual’s experiences and context. We do not always mean what we say, and even when we do, others may not understand it in the same way as we intend.

Moreover, we talk so much! Usually without checking that our audience is getting what we mean. Too busy getting our point across to develop the understanding we seek.

Many people do not listen well either. They (we) need to realise the same issue bedevils them – their understanding of a word may differ from the speaker’s. Add in many words, all slightly amended in the hearing, and the message can get skewed quite a lot.

Self talk

The most dangerous talk of all – self-talk. We all talk to ourselves and our words shape our actions and reactions, not always well. We are so used to believing our own story that we do not check it often enough to see if it is still relevant.

Our past experiences are not always a good measure of our future. What happened to us in our younger days does not necessarily have to happen again. We know more now. History only repeats itself if we do not learn from it. However, we tend to convince ourselves things will be the samewithout thought. We have conditioned ourselves so thoroughly.  Stop, check yourself, ask – does it have to be like this again? What needs to happen to change this experience? How can I do that?

Management Speak

Now add in the perfect storm of management speak, most of which has little or no meaning, and what do we get? Noise, nothing more. Just a method of covering up the fact we do not know under a veneer of “common” management phrases. A shared vocabulary of self-talk with little or no meaning. The Guardian has some fun with it and there’s more entertainment here.

Old Habits

They are all old habits which haven’t been challenged. Self-limiting language often gets in the way of business success. I am frequently asking clients what they mean by certain phrases. “Can’t” pops up quite a lot.  “It has got to be” is common too.  On the one hand they are asking me for help, yet on the other they are assuming they know what cannot be done.  I have asked clients why they are here if they know nothing can be done. They tell me they expect I can suggest something, and then realise what they had just said. Now working together, we can find some solutions.

It goes back to childhood when we catastrophised. “No one loves me” really means your 6-year-old had a falling out with her best friend. For an hour.

Simple ways of thinking.

Picking through the incongruities removes these limitations. Yet often we stay in our 6 year old moment and don’t do the self-parental chat that brings us out of it. It is easy enough and fun for me to get people to change their language patterns. They find it empowering and often start finding other ways they can change for themselves. I make sure they know how. It is all about giving clients the tools to be the best they can.

That is why we help clients to develop strategy as high level, with simplicity and clarity about what each word means so they can understand themselves, and the limitations and opportunities in their world, and produce a flexible, agile framework to allow for the odd bump in the road. Self-understanding brings better results, and flexible solutions better yet.