The Right Words: Supporting Business Communication With Language

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As we Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioners cherchons divers marchés à travers nos communités, il nous faudra explorer d’abord nos propres vocabulaires, les mots spécifiques de notre métier.

The previous sentence may not be easily understood if you don’t speak both French and English. If you speak only one of those languages, you may be able to get the basic thought of the sentence. However, it takes some effort. It’s a good example that speaks volumes about the importance of words in the process of communication.

As we Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy professionals move our work into our communities, we need to focus our attention on much more than sessions or classes. In particular, we need to draw our attention to the words or languaging we use in order to speak to others about our work. In doing this, we become aware – and maybe in a very experiential way – of a universal phenomenon: Words can either support effective, clear communication or create confusion and impede or even shut down the communication process.

Rendering Communication Effective

A few years ago, as a newly certified and extremely passionate Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner, I started to talk about the work to non-practitioners every chance I had. Sometimes as I did this, I noticed their eyes glaze over. In some cases, eyes would even roll at the jargon used in my descriptions. Here are some examples: integration of body, mind, and spirit; connection with source; inner journey; inner wisdom; alignment with inner truth; inner peace; bliss. Even the word yoga sometimes created a barrier to further understanding. Clearly something was getting in the way of effective, supportive communication as I was talking about Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy.

It’s important to keep in mind that effective, supportive communication requires language that can be understood by both parties in communication. As noted communications expert John C. Maxwell states, “People respond to the language we use.”1 And when people can’t understand the words we use, the response will be confusion. That gets in the way of effective, supportive communication.

When we talk about Phoenix Rising to other practitioners or people who practice yoga, we easily fall into Phoenix Rising language – yoga, wellness, and alternative-therapies speak – and communication flows. However, if we talk to someone in the personnel department of a large corporation about adding Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy to part of an employee wellness program, this same Phoenix Rising language may not be understood.

Here’s an important point to keep in mind. When either the setting or the receiver changes and our words don’t change accordingly, the receiver of our words must translate them to try to understand what we offer. During the process, understanding may quite literally become lost in translation. Communication starts to be impaired, maybe to the point of even shutting down altogether.

Matching Language to Context

In the same way we may decide to dress a little more conservatively for a face-to-face meeting with a personnel director, we should also be willing to modify the language we use during such a meeting. It all becomes a question of right-languaging.

Matching our language to the context of the situation is a process known as right-languaging. This process truly supports authentic communication. If we communicate with recognition of and respect for the possibility that the receiver’s language or culture may skew the intended meaning of what we are trying to communicate, then to modify our language accordingly does something incredibly powerful. It re-aligns our intended meaning with how the receiver receives our words. The result? Authentic communication flows.. 

Right Language in Action

Have you ever travelled to a country whose language you do not speak and found yourself surrounded by conversations that were totally meaningless to you? It can be an isolating and disorienting experience.  Now imagine that out of nowhere you hear someone speaking your own language. What happens at that moment? A sudden connection manifests between you, and this total stranger. You are both speaking the same language and the ease with which you are able to understand each other bonds you almost instantly.

Now consider being back in your own country and reaching out to decision makers in a non-yoga-based organization in order to offer your services.  Such organizations are indeed concerned about happy, peaceful, well-balanced, and healthy employees. The “citizens” that work in such places, however, use a different language to speak about these qualities. In a corporate setting, the native language usually involves words like budget and profits and expenses. When speaking to these types of organizations, it truly serves to spend some time becoming familiar with the organization’s native language. Then spend some more time to develop some fluency with it so you can easily translate your Phoenix Rising language into the organization’s native language.

When we modify our language according to the receiver’s context (language, culture, values), we foster opportunity for right relationship. We open up space for conversation, making it safe to explore and discover together. With right languaging, we make it possible for mutually supportive decisions to be made, fulfilling the needs of both parties in the relationship. How? Because we’ve moved past the language barrier and into the world of authentic communcitation.

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1. Maxwell, John C. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2010), 67.

About the Author

Bev Johnson

Bev is certified in Phoenix Rising Yoga Therpay as a practitioner, yoga teacher, and group facilitator. She owns Cultivate Harmony Yoga in Montpelier, Va., where she helps her clients and students find relief from suffering caused by stress and stress-related conditions. Bev also co-facilitates Phoenix Rising workshops in venues throughout the northeastern United States with Phoenix Rising founder Michael Lee. She has Bachelors and Masters degrees in business and 25 years of corporate experience managing people, processes, communications, results…and stress.

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