How do we know when to use business language at work? This simple question has a not so simple answer – it depends. It turns out, using business language is a matter of perspective.
In a previous article I described the three languages we use at work. These are use language, expert language, and business language.
Okay, so there are three languages. But how do we know which is the right one to use? Choosing the right language depends on the topic, the situation, the desired outcome, and more. It also depends on the people involved in the communication.
That is a lot to consider when choosing what language to use when saying something. But, if you are thinking this all a bit too complicated, don’t worry. There is a simple way to identify the right language for any work situation.
The key is to consider the perspective of the audience. Pick the language that ensures the greatest understanding from the audience perspective.
Each language has a different perspective
The three languages we use at work each have a different perspective:
- User language = the user perspective
- Expert Language = the expert perspective
- Business language = the business perspective
These perspectives aren’t tied to specific people or job types. Every job has its own expert perspective. And because we are all users at some time or another, we all have a user perspective.
In fact, everyone uses all three perspectives at different times when working. And if perspective defines the language we use, this means everyone uses all three languages, too.
The three work languages, and their perspectives, each have a different question that shapes it. Knowing the question makes each language easier to understand.
- User perspective: ‘What does it do for me?’
- Expert perspective: ‘How does it do what it does?’ (Literally, what does it do?)
- Business perspective: ‘What does it do for the business?’
These questions show what each perspective cares about most. When communicating with someone, it helps to use the language that best matches their perspective.
Break the mindset that business people speak business language
How we communicate shouldn’t be defined by our job. How we communicate should be defined by the perspective of us and our audience.
Thinking about perspective helps us break free from the mindset that people in business jobs speak business language. In the same way that people in technical jobs don’t just speak technical language.
We aren’t limited to only one perspective in a given situation. When we communicate, we can consider more than one view and use more than one language. This is what the most successful communicators do. They consider more than one perspective when evaluating and communicating about an idea or a situation.
If you want to improve your communication skills, think about the audience’s perspective. Then use the language that matches that perspective.
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