Corporate communication

Understanding Linguistic Effects

What is the best way to give criticism? What is the best way to give orders? What is the best way to communicate? The answer is that there is no best way. The results of a given way of speaking will vary depending on the situation, the culture of the company, the relative rank of the speakers, their linguistic styles, and how those styles interact with one another. Because of all those influences, any way of speaking could be perfect for communicating with one person in one situation and disastrous with someone else in another. The critical skill for managers is to become aware of the workings and power of linguistic style, to make sure people having talent get heard and contribute.


Awareness of the differences in conversational style makes it easy to see the potential in the person whom you are talking to. Those who are comfortable speaking up in groups, who need little or no silence before raising their hands, or who speak out easily without waiting to be recognised are far more likely to get heard in meetings. Those who refrain from talking until it is clear that the previous speaker is finished, who wait to be recognised, and who are inclined to link their comments to those of others will do fine at a meeting where everyone else is following the same rules, but will have a difficult time getting heard in a meeting with people whose styles are more like the first pattern. Given the socialization of typical men and women, men are more likely to have learned the first style and women the second, making meetings more congenial for men than for women. Even if women try the first pattern they are seen as being too aggressive.

A manager should have the knowledge of these dynamics so that everyone gets the chance to speak and get heard in a meeting. Managers who know how to run a meeting will know how to facilitate a meeting and make it approachable for both the genders, mentoring and advancing the careers of others, evaluating performance and so on, talk is the most essential part in a managerial work and understanding that different people have different ways of saying what they mean will make it possible to take advantage of the talent of people with broad range of linguistic styles. As work place becomes more diverse and business becomes more global, managers will need to become even better in reading the interactions and flexible in adjusting their styles with people whom they interact for a mutual benefit to the organisation.

Shubham Chakraborty | PGDM 2015-17