Business language

Within global/multinational companies the generally used language for communication is English. Thus in any meeting several mother tongues may be represented, but all are speaking (with more or less facility) English. This, as all the "Doing Business … books" instruct, is often a recipe for mis-communication, misunderstanding, and general lack of success. The way organisational members manage the connections between languages, a diversity of perspectives, and the national cultures they represent are partly contributory both to an organisation's culture and its business success.

Beyond the 'real' language that people speak is the more or less endemic cloak of the 'language of business' that has been well lampooned by Scott Adams, Lucy Kellaway, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (the last two wrote the UK TV series 'The Office') among others. Lucy Kellaway, for, example, wrote a fictional column in the Financial Times about a senior manager who spoke almost entirely in business cliches.

Martin Lukes talked the talk. Or rather, he added value by reaching out and sharing his blue sky thinking. At the end of the day he stepped up to the plate and delivered world class jargon that really pushed the envelope. After eight years of being him I came to accept the nouns pretending to be verbs. To task and to impact. Even the new verb to architect I almost took in my stride. I didn't even really mind the impenetrable sentences full of leveraging value and paradigm shifts. But what still rankled after so long were the little things: that he said myself instead of me and that he would never talk about a problem, when he could dialogue around an issue instead.

Although it may sound bizarre to people who do not speak 'business' it is a social construct that serves as a common language running parallel to all the varieties of English that are spoken (both by people who have English as a mother tongue and people who have learned it as a second language). Learning the language of the organization is part of any newcomer's onboarding process, and language is an implicit and under examined part of any organization design.

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