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I Hear What You Are Saying

Written by Jason Gledhill, Engagement Leader at Lauras International.

BBC Breakfast recently highlighted a report by The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which states that correspondence sent by consultants to patients often contains complicated medical jargon rather than plain, simple English.  This means our GPs’ time is taken up by having to explain what the consultant means. Because of this, consultants are being told to adopt a new policy of writing letters that are easier for patients to understand.

This set me thinking about the words we use in the workplace.

In the UK workplace, we usually deliver our messages in English, even though English isn’t always the language of choice for many colleagues. Not only is English not always the first language, but we must also factor in local dialects and regional accents, which can be difficult to understand when you aren’t familiar with them.

For instance, if someone said to you; “Tin tin tin”, what would your understanding of that message be? Possibly three tins required? Being a Yorkshireman, it makes perfect sense to me; someone is informing me that the item they are looking for “Isn’t in the tin”. The phrase; “Day do doe don’t day doe” (to mean ‘they do though, don’t they’) has often been used to parody those from Liverpool due to their unique accent.

When you consider these examples and think about the many dialects across the UK, it shows that speaking in the language you know is not enough. Knowing the local language of the person in front of you will help you express yourself better.

Language has always been an important source of communication and has three important functions; to be informative, expressive and directive. The informative function allows us to communicate information clearly and concisely. Feelings and emotions can be delivered through expressive wording, and finally, the directive language function conveys what actions need to be performed.

In the workplace, where we must deliver numerous messages, we tend to use the informative and directive language, but on occasion, we use the wrong words. In the multicultural workplace, it is important we use language that is simple and easy for everyone to understand rather than using convoluted vocabulary to deliver straightforward messages.

In summary, to ensure your audience has a better understanding of your message, keep your message concise and straightforward. Use language that everyone will understand. Don’t use a big word when a singularly un-loquacious and diminutive linguistic express will satisfactorily accomplish the contemporary necessity.

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