language standards – 

self assessment

Two key areas to think about

In any organisation there can be numerous approaches to take to language standards.  But there are two critical issues about which most IC Specialists have common blind-spots.  These relate to:

  1. Oral communication
  2. Audience engagement

If your language standards are going to be DFVP, you need to be sure they’re taking care of these blind-spots.  Scroll down to assess how fit your  standards are…

  1. Oral communication

A. The common blind-spot

Writing style guides are unquestionably useful.  But huge volumes of internal communications are oral rather than written.

So is it not a little odd to prescribe rules for how things should be written – and yet leave people to spew jargon and vague, abstract corporate-speak to their heart’s content when they’re speaking? 

How is this healthy for any organisation?

B. The consequences

Corporate speak, vague abstractions, and jargon all increase the risk of employees not understanding what they’re being told first time.

So either communicators and their audiences need to spend additional time going through repeat messages, or employees start making mistakes.

Either way, they’re unlikely to be unhappy about it.  So the employee experience takes a hit.  And mistakes may hurt brand value too.

C. The self-assessment

Does your organisation have language standards to govern the way people express themselves to each other?

If such standards are in place, do they cover oral communication or (in their content or their application) are they focused only on written communication?

Even if your language standards are taking care of this, are they doing so in a way which fully supports audience engagement?…

2. Audience engagement

A. The common blind-spot

Most people are familiar with the experience of reading something and, half way through, starting to think:

“Hang on.  Is this talking to me, or to someone else?  It feels like it’s for someone else, even though I first thought it was meant for me.”

And what do you do when that happens?  Probably ditch it and move on.  Most people do.  But what makes you switch off like that?  It’s something called a ‘Detached Observer Trigger’.

There are six linguistic triggers – that live beyond the traditional rules of grammar – which make this happen.

B. The consequences

When employees are switched off by Detached Observer Triggers their usual response is to ditch the communication and move on.

So the communication will have failed to produce the outcome it needed from those employees.  And chances are they’ll swear blind they were never told about it.

The upshot is wasted time, lower engagement, poorer performance, increased operating costs and lower brand value.

C. The self-assessment

Do your organisation’s language standards/style guide include instructions for avoiding the Detached Observer Triggers, so internal audiences always feel:

“This is talking to me.”…

…from beginning to end?

If not, and you’d like to save your organisation time, improved engagement and performance, reduce operating costs and increase brand value, you can…

…Find the solution here