Cutting Through The Non-Speak – Communication and the Manager’s use of Language.

Language is the most powerful weapon of the manager. Language can and does manipulate.

The inverted qualifiers.

The three most widely used inverted qualifiers are just, only and but.

  • “I like this idea but …….”
  • “Your presentation was good but ……”
  • “You could go to that conference but ……”

Basically everything before the BUT is rubbish. Ignore it. The speaker does not mean it, the speaker only means what is meant after the but. The way to deal with but speakers is to repeat back to them exactly what they said after the but and ask them if that is what they meant. Then tell them everything before the but is rubbish.

  • “Could you just type this proposal?”
  • “It is only a small proposal/error/problem”

Just and only are sure-fire indicators of someone feeling very defensive about something; they have done something wrong or they are asking for something unreasonable. At this point you need to start probing to see how serious the problem or issue actually is.

Power words.

Documents are scattered with power words that include; urgent, important, significant and strategic. Power words are intended to add weight to the document but do not as they are unqualified opinions of the writer. The words in the document or instruction should make that clear by themselves alone.

I and We

Some people make a management religion out of using we instead of I. We is more inclusive and less adversarial than I.

  • “I want you to …” rather than “We need to ….”

Generally we is much more positive and constructive but can be totally presumptuous in some situations. It assumes a level of intimacy that may not exist.

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