Discuss: Does use of language determine success in the workplace?

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I recently worked with Professor Judith Baxter, Aston University, on a Using Language Effectively Series (cheeky plug, now available on the Chamber website: http://www.birmingham-chamber.com/WiBLanguage ). Based on her academic research into the language used in real boardrooms and senior level discussions, it highlighted that there are some key differences in the ways that men and women use language. Furthermore, it suggested that some linguistic techniques are more effective in difficult situations than others.

One of the most interesting findings from her work is that women tend to use a lot more ‘double voicing’ in conversation with colleagues than men. ‘Double voicing’ is a way of pre-empting someone else’s view point (e.g. ‘I know you’re going to say ** but… you could argue ** however) to varying degrees of success.

Whilst interesting (and useful!) work, it got me thinking about the wider agenda beyond the women in business aspect. A cursory Amazon search will show you that there is an abundance of literature on the use of language, and body language in business. Searching for the keys to success in verbal and non-verbal communication is clearly an on-going pursuit for a not insignificant proportion of the business community.

As a result, I’m very interested in finding out what you think – does how we use language determine success in the workplace? Are there any situations you struggle to find the right words for? Or do you have techniques of your own you recommend? Comment below!

In addition – if you’ve ever encountered a tricky linguistic situation (a ‘what do you say to THAT’) moment in the workplace, chat to Judith via her blog – she’ll be happy to help and may even create a new advice booklet on the topic: http://leadershiptalk.blogs.aston.ac.uk/?page_id=514


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