How many times have you had a conversation with a co-worker, client, or business partner and while you were both saying exactly the same thing, neither of you could understand what the other person was saying? An agreement was never reached, and a great strategy, idea, or action was never implemented.
This is a common outcome when you find yourself speaking different languages. I know, I know… “What do you mean ‘speaking different languages?’ We both speak [insert your native language].” Well, let me explain.
Language is much larger than simply the words we use. Many languages share common words, but context, usage, and meaning are easily lost when you mix those words into different languages. This happens in business, too!
Language, as we define it in business terms, are the words, inflections, and key points that matter as it pertains to our core accountabilities. At BFO, we commonly discuss how language impacts how we communicate with our clients’ various contacts. Speaking the same language leads to clear, transparent communication while building long-lasting relationships based on trust and respect. Below are the basic common language methods that we utilize with our clients; however, please remember that many people speak multiple languages and you must be prepared to change your language to match that of your audience.
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C-Suite/Partner / Owner
This individual is often accountable for the financial (P&L), marketplace, and final decisions within an organization. This individual is focused on business growth and how to grow or improve your position within the market. Common concerns and priorities include market share, futures, investments, and growth. This individual is also often focused on a specific strategy, and their time is incredibly valuable.
In speaking with this individual, your focus should be on the future. Understand how what you are speaking about directly addresses their company’s market share and growth. Keep your discussion short and focused on the key points. Use common phrases as you describe your points, such as market share, market position, and growth.
Vice President (VP) / Director
This individual has a very specific focus: ROI. They are accountable for solving specific problems to increase revenue or decrease costs (or both). Their focus can often be redirected in a hurry as new issues and business challenges arise. They are also often conflicted between getting back to a past success or finding new successes.
In speaking with this individual, you must be prepared to focus on either a specific pain point or focus on pleasure. If a pain point exists, don’t flip the language to be positive. Use negative trigger words to confirm empathy and understanding. Use statements and questions such as “Stop doing X” or “How much in wasted spend is X causing you?”. Focus your conversation on financial growth and increased efficiencies. Be willing to adapt your conversation to the highest priority topic at that moment in time.
Manager / Tactician
These are the individuals who are responsible for the day-to-day operation within any business. Their focus is solving an immediate challenge. They are responsible for the business priorities that are happening in that moment in time. They are often looking to solve a specific challenge that affects their ability to achieve success.
With this individual, be prepared to talk about how your conversation specifically helps them achieve success. Keep your conversation in the present tense. Ask lots of questions about what this individual’s key responsibilities are and get detailed. When providing reports and analysis, focus on the detail as it pertains this individual’s’ success.
Finding a common language in business will lead to better conversations and relationships. When you find a common language you can solve more challenges, build momentum, and achieve amazing results. And remember, you can only change yourself, you cannot change others.
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