Patrick’s Monday Vista #5- Our Greatest Invention
No doubt the greatest human invention of all time is human language itself. Spoken human language emerged somewhere between 150,000 and 80,000 years ago and was fundamental in enabling human beings to work together and coordinate their actions for mutual benefit.Initially this involved communication among individuals in small bands for hunting and gathering, then later on a much more sophisticated level insedentary agriculture and the building of the institutions that ultimately led to the birth of civilization itself. In effect, the ability to use language is the essence of being human.
Not only is language our greatest invention it is also one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal and as such needs to be nurtured, cultivated and used with great care and purpose. In the ancient Celtic world, among the most feared and powerful individuals in the clans were the poets who could make or break the reputation of a chieftain or warrior with the composition of a heroic epic or a career-shattering satire. Language was the stuff of spells, prophesies and magic!
Likewise today, in the business world language is the single most powerful tool at our disposal. Used judiciously, we can wield it to shape the future and communicate vision, to encourage, to empathise, and to create clarity. Applied injudiciously in a business environment, inappropriate language can demoralise, offend, and confuse creating havoc, discordance and ultimately business failure.
Of course, we cannot all be master communicators and wordsmiths of the calibre of a Churchill, a Reagan or a Mahatma Ghandi but we can all be mindful of the language we choose to use and the effect it has on our colleagues, our customers and our suppliers.
The language we use is a function of our thoughts and our thoughts emerge through our self-talk. Therefore, the key to our improving our language is to be cognisant of our self-talk.When communicating with others, we should never dumb-it down because it is disrespectful, nor should we overcomplicate with jargon and buzzwords because it is vacuous. We need to keep it real to be credible.
In the quest for competitive advantage in the business world, the effective use of the magic power of human language is the least expensive and yet the most underutilized tool at our disposal to create common purpose, build well-being and enhance performance to ensure that our businesses can thrive in the future.