How Language Can Include or Exclude

1 Feb 2009

How Language Can Include or Exclude

Creating a Them vs Us mentality

How language can Include or Exclude

Do you divide your organisation into ‘staff’ and ‘management’. Notice which category you put yourself in. Are you ‘staff’ or ‘management’? Many people notice that using ‘staff and management’ language immediately seems to create a Them vs Us awareness.

Now think about the organisation as being a team effort with yourself as part of that team. Where do you notice yourself fitting into that team? Do you think about it differently inside your head? Does it ‘feel’ different to be part of a team rather than to belong to  ‘staff’ or ‘management’?

Words are powerful things

Words show us how language can include or exclude. Referring to teams and team members puts everyone on the same side. Yet referring to people as, ‘team members’ can seem unnatural, ‘PC’ type language. ‘Team member’ can feel a bit unwieldy; a bit of a mouthful.

Using different language might seem strange or awkward

At some stage you’ve had to learn every word you know, and there are bound to be words or phrases that felt strange when you first used them. Yet now they are just part of the language you use every day. You have to use up-to-date language in order to get your message across. What message are you portraying if you talk about ‘staff’ and ‘management’?

Want to be more influential?