Business Communications – Common Language

StrategyDriven Business Communications Article | Common Language
Clarity of communication is a critical component of all business transactions. Without understanding, we are prone to execute instructions in a manner different than that desired. So how then, can we as communicators ensure our message is clear and understood by those receiving it?[wcm_restrict plans=”49070, 25542, 25653″]

For communications to be clear, they must possess several key qualities, one of which is common language. Common language is more than a specific language; it also includes a common frame of reference. People from different locations often use words and phrases the meaning of which is not broadly understood. And even among individuals sharing a like understanding of this slang, an off-normal word association can inhibit understanding.

One of the best illustrations of two people speaking one language, English, but not understanding each other because of a lack of common reference is Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s On First?” routine first performed in the early 1930’s.

Video 1: Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First?” from the 1945 film The Naughty Nineties.

Recognizing Common Language Challenges

Preventing communication misunderstandings will eliminate the often costly need for rework and renegotiation in addition to the damage done to relationships. Several activities that help identify when a common language challenge is likely to exist:

  • Identifying the language and fluency level of audience members
  • Learning the regional living differences of audience members
  • Listening for requests for clarification or restatement
  • Looking for the appearance of inquisitive or confused facial expressions
  • Checking for alignment between audience member responses and information communicated

Minimizing Common Language Challenges

In addition to recognizing common language challenges, communicators can proactively minimize the occurrence of these misunderstandings by:

  • Communicating in the language of the audience or employ an interpreter to do so
  • Eliminating the use of colloquialisms from communications
  • Checking for understanding of key messages and action requests
  • Using visuals to augment verbal communications, particularly for complex or abstract concepts

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About the Author

Karen K. Juliano is StrategyDriven‘s Editor-in-Chief and Director of Communications and Marketing. Prior to joining the StrategyDriven team, she helped produce weekly programming for a Public Access Television station and served as a production assistant in the public affairs office at United States Naval Base, Philadelphia. To read Karen’s complete biography, click here.