I read quite a lot, and I tend to jot down in a notebook phrases that strike me from the books I get through. On the latest of our regular Originize Zoom meetings on Friday night I shared one of these phrase and it generated a bit of interest so I thought I’d expand on it a bit in this blog.

The quote was:

“To be heard you must speak the language of the one you want to listen”.

It comes from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer.

We all speak more languages than we probably realise. Andy Adler who was on the zoom, and comes from a veterinary background, mentioned that whilst doing an MBA that one of the useful things he learned was to speak, amongst others the languages of “Finance” & “Management”. It makes me wonder if a key skill for a leader is to be speak the language of their followers.

Language doesn’t just have to be purely the spoken word. Science, art, music, painting are also languages. Another quote in the same book attributed to Greg Cajete is:

“We understand a thing only when we understand it with all four aspects of our being: mind, body, emotion, and spirit”.

So maybe if we want to be fully understood we need to speak with all these four aspects. We know the meanings of the words we say, and we are starting to appreciate how much we say with our body language, but have we yet consciously got to grips with putting emotional and spiritual content into the message we want to convey?

One of the ways to do this is through stories and metaphor. Stories cut across language barriers. However today there seems to be a tend to say things in as short a way as possible, time is money and all that. The salesmen though know the the truth that the scientists do not, “facts tell, stories sell”. As Daniel Pink put it we are all in sales whether we are researchers looking for funding or parents asking children to tidy rooms. Quite often in our Originize conversations we discuss two different groups, the puzzllers and the mystics and about finding a language of the middle, and maybe this another way to improve communication. With better communication comes better understanding and better understanding opens up more possibilities, So here’s to being better communicators in the future.

PS The photo above was taken at Savern in the Alsace region of France at about 10:00am. The ladies pictured had been standing for hours in rain like stair rods. My french was not good enough but I wish I could have spoken with them and learned their story.