Only the ability to create and understand language makes us humans special. Our perception in society is also our language. Of course, other life forms, such as animals, are also in tune with each other, but this language serves more for mere information and is nowhere near as deep and complex as human language.

The current Shooting Star of the Green Party Robert Habeck said recently:How we talk decides who we are – also and especially in politics.” He even published a book about how language influences democracy. In his work, he gives tips on how a “poetic of democratic speaking encourages people to get involved”.

Language can also be an important tool in agile management to convince employees and transport values. Let us take the negative example of Verena Bahlsen, who said: ” That was before mytime, and we paid the forced laborers just as the Germans and treated them well“. This sentence triggered an absolute shitstorm, although she said she never meant it that way. Another example is volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess:The phrase “EBIT makes free” was reminiscent of a rather dark time in German history. According to its own statement, the board meant the tight profit targets.

Another example comes from Mr. Dieter Zetsche, then CEO of Daimler. He said: “We believe that we need to be more agile in the uncertain developments of the future.” With this sentence, he shows optimism and weakens agile populism by the word believe. Another example is dietmar Hopp, who said on the subject of wealth of managers:I’ve been so lucky that I’ve got so much wealth. I didn’t feel that was fair to myself. You have to return a good part to society.” With this quote, he encourages other entrepreneurs to give something back.

Language as a tool of management

Managers spend most of their working day communicating. According to a study by Mautner (2011), as much as 80% of the day. According to the study, the majority of your activities are inextricably linked to routine planning, control and management tasks with speaking, listening, reading and writing (Mautner 2011).

7 Recommendations for managers to act

  • Read the newspaper and see how it is formulated. You can learn from reputable newspapers.
  • The answers must fit the context. Do not cite facts without context.
  • Talk about what you have any idea about. If you want to talk about a new topic – talk to experts beforehand. Let us explain exactly how everything works and why it must be exactly the same.
  • Images should be created in the listener’s mind according to your language. Pictures are not forgotten again so quickly.
  • Not recommended are adjectives: latest, best, unique, most effective… That always sounds like advertising.
  • You also make mistakes: there are no perfect projects. You are welcome to say that there are still things that you are working on and that need to be added.
  • Credibility is important and is promoted by concrete language and honesty. So don’t talk as polished, but also like a normal person with style.

Conclusion

I believe that language in word and image is an important tool to convey values and principles, especially in agile organization and virtual teams. The recommendations for action have shown how this can be achieved. I believe that in the future it will be more and more important to say less but to think carefully and say the right thing. My final tips are: Just think before you communicate:

  • Do I notice common diversity and gender rules?
  • Do I use an open language?
  • Do I avoid superlatives and devaluations?
  • Do I avoid populism?
  • Can I differentiate instead of generalize?
  • Is my statement positive and optimistic?
  • Is it possible to misunderstand something?

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Of course, there are still very important aspects that I cannot describe in the shortness of the blog article. One of these is, for example, the duration of speech, i.e. the proportion of the conversation. Especially permanent monologuers never go along well. In addition to this aspect, there are many points that I will certainly elaborate in other blog articles.

Image source: Shop photo created by katemangostar – de.freepik.com

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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