Our patriarchal world has always had its own language. In ancient Greece, it included words such asemperor, fealty and honor. In Egypt it was pharaoh, tradition and dynasty. According to Peter Block, today’s words include ‘vision statement’ and ‘stretch-goals’ which make up our patriarchal language.
The language dominates our business culture. We create packaged jargon to get our point across as vaguely and quickly as possible. Our meetings are designed for those that have something to say, so it’s no surprise that our business language is constructed in a way that makes quick sharing more of a priority than deep understanding of the problems or solutions. We hear terms like ‘ROI’ and ‘bottom-line oriented’ thrown around so often that they lose all meaning. The vague language creates gaps in our understanding of situations and our sense of solidarity when approaching solutions.
According to Peter, the best thing we can do in these situations is simple: just listen. Though our meetings aren’t designed with the listener in mind, by being truly present we’re taking the first step in changing that dynamic. Clear and effective communication involves both the speaker and the listener, and while you may not be able to control the speaker’s communication, by listening you’re taking the first step in creating an effective communicative relationship.