Language: A Barrier in Business

Everyone communicates differently.  Each person’s language is a reflection of how they grew up.  This means that there will be misunderstandings between people.  In order to learn someone else’s language, you need to spend time with them. Learn how they speak, how they accent words, and how to best communicate with them.  This is the same for groups of people as well.  Each group of people will create their own language when they are together long enough.  There will be new words and phrases created with special meaning that only the group knows.  For example, I am a Nerdfighter.  Most of you will not know what this is, but the video below will give a good explanation of the concept.

As a Nerdfighter, you would easily know what “puff levels”, “French the llama”, and “DFTBA” mean.  But all you non-Nerdfighters would simply be confused by these sayings if I had not added the video.  This is the same for geeks and suits.  Suits are a group.  They use language for sharing things with each other about their projects and their lives.  While geeks also use language to share things, the basis of their sharing is usually to transfer information to each other.  They have a certain way of speaking with one another and find it hard to communicate with people from any other group, especially suits.  When a suit starts to ramble on about different things, a geek will find it hard to pay attention and will only hear unnecessary information.

blahblah (What geeks hear when suits start to talk about emotions)

But if you are trying to communicate with a person in another group, then it is best to start by understanding something about them.  Usually when I am getting to know a new group, I sit with them and observe them.  One thing that I find that is usually easy to adapt to in a group is their humor.   Take geeks for example, most of the humor they enjoy comes from Internet memes, Reddit, or videos on Youtube or Vimeo.  It is hard to understand at first, but it is what they find funny.  Open your mind and try to look at it from a different angle if you can’t understand it. Below is a video that is a perfect combination of almost all of the things that I just mentioned.

Now suits are different.  They are more open with their emotions.  They try to connect with others and usually want to try and be very open so that people trust them.  Their humor is usually more toned down. It is clear cut and easy to understand.  SOmetimes it takes a little thought, but usually it is just there to lighten the mood or get the person the suit is talking to laughing so that they will bring down their guard.  That’s when the suit knows that the customer will be the most open.  Below is an example of a comic about suits.  Notice that simplicity of the drawing and the single sentence explanation.  Most comics about suits are like this.


Now that you understand a bit about the group that you’re interested in interacting with, you are ready to interact with them.  Take it slow, just like you would with anything else that is new.  Don’t lose your temper with the other people around you.  Be patient and give them a chance.  They may be different than you, but that does not mean that you cannot get along with them.  WHo knows? Perhaps you have more in common with them than you think.  Just remember that they are different. They are unique and have their own special mix of skills and flaws.  Look past all of the differences on the outside and try to look within to see the person they really are.  Then you will be ready to try and join their group.


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