I’ve a confession and a plea…
As part of my awesome job (and it is really cool), we facilitate groups and teams that need some form of support with whatever it is they are working on, and their ability to do it together. The ‘work’ or ‘topic’ is usually complex, complicated and/or people have a lot of different feelings about it so the language we choose in designing and running sessions is kept ‘human’ to help the discussions to happen in a way that everyone in the room can understand and contribute to. Equal voice, encouraging diversity of thought and inclusion is really, really important to everything we do.
Now at this point I’ll put up my hands and share than I’m better at ‘talking’ than ‘writing and reading’. I regularly compere and facilitate large events with confidence…but when I receive long reports from clients or I research aspects of behavioural science, my heart sinks a little. I can work through it… however I know it takes me some time to simply ‘absorb’ the long and often scientific words on the page so that I understand and follow the thread.
I’m noticing more and more that sometimes the language and words we use in Organisational Development (OD), HR and Change Management are at times ‘hard to swallow’. Just in the last few weeks I’ve heard terms such as ‘ideation’, ‘optimising project outcomes’, ‘leveraging assets’ and of course my all-time favourite ‘paradigm shift’ (everyone winced with that one). At worst, I’ve almost felt ‘excluded’ from a conversation as a sort of ‘who-in-the-room-has-the-biggest-vocabulary-battle’ started to appear.
Even the terms ‘change management’ and ‘engagement’ are causing a reaction with more and more people.
To be clear, I’m not implying we should all be using a primary-school-level set of words and nothing more (like that of the Haribo boardroom adverts). I’m also not saying academic theories don’t have a place in our world – they of course in many ways guide us through our daily work.
My question is… could we as OD professionals, HR and leaders do more to make our most complex problems at work ‘easier’ for people to help solve (or at least start to overcome) by changing the way we talk about them?
What are your thoughts?
Have you seen great examples of changing the words we use at work to make things a little easier for each other, and as a result, more inclusive?
I’d love to hear…